“Awaken to the mystery of being here and enter the quiet immensity of your own presence.” John O’Donohue
Did you know that, on a forty-minute car journey, we only pay attention to our driving for two minutes. For the other 38 minutes, we’re usually thinking about where we should be, what we have to do, what the person walking down the street is wearing. It goes on and on.
Isn’t it scary that we drive every day so completely unaware of our driving, and what’s more, so does everybody else!
So how can we come to be actively more present in our lives and even more critically, why is it important to be present in the first place? Surely it can be much nicer, at times, to be in daydream mode, miles away from our cares and our worries?
Well, the answer to that question is that we spend much of our day either thinking about past events or worrying about future events (which may never happen). This takes us away from being present and allows our energy to flow away from our core.
We are born with 100% energy available to us, but as we grow older, we can spend around 35% of our time engaged in thinking back to the past, and the same amount speculating on the future. This leaves us with only about 30% of our overall energy to work with in the moment – nowhere near enough to make the most of our day-to-day lives.
The good news is that there is so much written about the topic of being present, that we should all be able to go and get the information to help us. The bad news is that even if we get our hands on the information, we rarely stay present enough to take in what we are reading.
We need to take back control of our energy by being in the present and working on all the thoughts and feelings that limit us and take that attention away.
Thankfully, there are several practical ways in which we can help ourselves:
Practice mindfulness in our daily lives. Start the day with a centring breathing meditation. Sit for 10 minutes in the morning and follow your breath, in and out, letting your thoughts come and go.
Every time you’re stuck at a red light, turn a negative into a positive by treating it as thirty seconds of being present.
When you find yourself feeling overwhelmed, stop and ask what you can do to help yourself, right then and there. It could be as simple as making yourself a drink, phoning a good friend for a chat or doing the one job that will make a difference right now.
If you’re falling prey to a negative thought, always follow on with a positive one. For example, “This is one of the most stressful days I’ve ever had…but it won’t continue forever and tomorrow is going to be better.”
Use simple Energy Psychology techniques which help rid yourself of memories and emotions that no longer serve you. As a simple example, in moments of serious stress, just tap the tops of your fingers with your thumb. It brings you immediately into the present and calms you instantly.
Take responsibility for your words when you communicate and don’t get caught up in being judgmental or critical of others.
Sarah Bird is a Personal Development Consultant and a leading practitioner of Energy Psychology Techniques and Non-violent Communication. For information on consultations and workshops, log onto www.sarahbird.ie