How to be Present

In the last post, I wrote about presence in your relationship. Here we'll look at how to strengthen the quality of your ability to be consciously present.

To develop presence, like anything else, you have to practice it and continue doing so. You can practice being in the moment with any activity. Understand right now, that this isn't easy to keep up. The goal is to keep doing it and observe over time how your ability to stay in the moment increases by itself. Below are the best times to practice presence...

Rather than eat in front of the TV at home or reading a magazine or working on the computer while you have lunch at work, take a meal and eat it alone and without any other activity. There may well be other people and activities going on around you if you're away from home, but do nothing other than focus on the meal at hand. Look at your food and take in the colours and textures as you use your knife to cut through parts or push them onto your fork. As it enters your mouth, note the feel, smell and flavours that each mouthful produces. Combine different foods from the meal in one mouthful and notice the subtle difference in tastes. Do this for one meal a day and you'll likely feel profound effects.

When talking with somebody, simply practice giving that person your full attention. Listen carefully to each word. Watch for the subtle changes in facial expressions as they talk. Slow your breathing down and visualize yourself absorbing their words. Without trying, you will feel what they feel. And you will notice them notice this too! When somebody can feel your presence, it has a visible effect on them. 

Being amongst nature tends to create presence in people. It's my theory that this is why pretty much every human being enjoys being in natural settings or at least feels good after having been out in it. Especially us urban Londoners! I also believe it has to do with tapping into an ancient part of ourselves where it was in this environment that we had to be observant for food and predators. 
Take a walk in the woods, a park, by a lake (or jungle or desert if your an international follower of the blog!), preferably alone, and simply... observe. At the core of presence, is pure observation without mental labelling. As you walk or sit, just observe. Listen to the constant sounds that nature produces - the sound of life itself. Notice the different smells as you perhaps walk from one area to the next; how all the different trees, plants, flowers and bodies of water combine to create that 'nature smell'! Watch as the environment teems with life. Sit still and notice the movents of the birds and animals around you. Practice this regularly and notice how quickly you can tap into that part of your DNA that remembers living in this environment even if like me you have lived in a city like London your entire life.