Once You’re “Being Present,”
By Kris Kile
In Monday’s blog post, we explored how intentionally attending to breath enables you to become more present.
The big question for many is, “Once I have calmed my mind and cleared extraneous thoughts through paying attention to my breathing, then what? What is next? What does this lead to?”
That question may occur consciously or unconsciously for some. Perhaps this is one of the big challenges in mindfully practicing being present. Many never come up with an answer to the question “What’s the point?”
In the last blog post we covered five benefits of attending to breath. The bottom line is that it is an extremely effective method to support healthy linkage between your emotional brain and thinking brain. It enhances their ability to collaborate and work together rather than be at odds with each other. This is a fundamental discipline in taming the brain. It promotes balance and harmony in your brain, mind and life.
Once you start practicing this, what’s next?
What’s next is honing your inner observer—your ability to observe yourself.
Clearing your mind of as much of the internal background chatter that constantly flows within it enables you to start noticing what is “there” as you observe it.
So, here is another powerful discipline to try out once you are clearing your mind by attending to your breathing….
Notice what is there. Hone your inner observer. Notice your bodily sensations, what emotions are present, your heart beating, where you are holding tension or pain, what your body intelligence center and emotional intelligence center are communicating.
This is all about intentionally increasing your internal awareness.
You do not need to “do anything” with what you observe. Simply be with it. Be present in it. Notice it. Observe it, non-judgmentally. Allow yourself to simply be with it without any felt need to do anything about it.
This is a practice, like playing a musical instrument is a practice, or going to the gym and doing an exercise is a practice. It is a very powerful practice, but—in the moment—it often doesn’t feel like much. And that is okay. Just practice it. You are building new “being-present-muscles” so to speak. You are PRACTICING being present.
Great musicians and athletes excel when “in the spotlight,” because they PRACTICE their craft when NOT in the spotlight. When we get triggered into resistant, reactive or defensive responses, we are then “in the spotlight.” It is a high intensity moment.
If we PRACTICE attending to breathing to maintain presence at times we are NOT being triggered, it predisposes us to more easily interrupt defensiveness/resistance when it occurs, and shift to being present and neutral.
We will continue to drill down on why this is such a big deal, in future blogs. But, I leave you this week with one of my favorite quotes….from William James, one of the founders of modern psychology.
The faculty of voluntarily bringing back a wandering attention, over and over again, is the very root of judgment, character and will. No one is compos sui [master of himself] if he have it not.
An education which should improve this faculty
would be the education par excellence.
–William James, Principles of Psychology
What do you find the biggest challenges to mindfully practicing presence? Post your thoughts or comments on Facebook timeline.