HEY FAM! I’VE BEEN BLESSED TO BE ON THIS EARTH FOR 25 YEARS, BUT IT WASN’T UNTIL THE LAST COUPLE WHERE I STARTED TO CHASE MY CURIOSITY. I STARTED TO SEEK QUESTIONS IN MY HEALTH, EGO, PURPOSE, LIFESTYLE, SUSTAINABILITY, SPIRITUALITY AND SO MUCH MORE. MY CURIOSITY HAS PUSHED ME TO DISCOMFORT AND OVER THESE LAST COUPLE YEARS I’VE COME TO NEW AMAZING REVELATIONS AND UNDERSTANDINGS ABOUT THIS BEAUTIFUL GAME OF LIFE. THE SOUL SEARCHING HAS RAISED MY AWARENESS AND I BECAME MUCH MORE INTENTIONAL. AND IT IS MY INTENTION TO SHARE WITH YOU ALL MY NEW AND EVER EVOLVING PERSPECTIVES. SO STRAP UP, AND LET’S GO FOR A RIDE.
“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence”-Eckhart Tolle
I was thinking about starting off with the great Kung Fu Panda quote, “ Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, and today is a gift…that’s why they call it present”. Master Oogway sure had a way with words, but I wanted to start off with a quote from the man, a pioneer, who jump-started my journey and understanding about the power of the present moment. Author of “The Power of Now” and “A New Earth”, Eckhart Tolle.
I wrote much of what I’m about to share two weeks ago. I was getting ready to post it, then I got this feeling, that inner voice/guidance, telling me to read my own words. So, I decided to take two weeks off social media. My intention throughout the week was focused around “presence”. My screen time dropped 40% and I gained some beautiful clarity.
I sat deeper with my feelings in particular moments throughout the day. I tried some new techniques to bring me back to each moment. My lens of how I looked at my surroundings shifted, and it stilled my mind and body to be able to better listen to my inner guidance. I believe when we sit still, or are able to find stillness within the movement of life, and empty out the noise we bring room for our intuition to breathe and come to life.
What did I learn throughout this week? Well, I realized how much of a habit clicking on those apps were. I caught myself a handful of times unconsciously chasing it. It was a way to fill the “boredom”, which can be a very dangerous game to play.
I observed more. I paid attention to people’s little tendencies; how they walked and talked. Which leg did they place their weight on when they stood? What are they doing with their hands? Where are their eyes taking them? Body language. Who is holding the power in conversations?
I melted with the sunsets each night. I dug my toes into the earth. I felt my belly expand on my inhale and contract on my exhale. I felt where I was feeling the nerves in my body when I got nervous and how I felt when I laughed. I sat with the burn in my body during and after a good lift. I chewed my food and observed each flavor. I felt the difference of being present indoors versus outdoors. There is this enigmatic essence when sitting with stillness in Nature. It’s tricky to explain, but I could feel the difference.
I cleared my mind to allow the flow of my thoughts. I didn’t judge (Well, tried not to judge) and I listened. There’s a sense of ease that comes with presence. It truly is a gift wrapped in the simplest packaging.
Part of me wants to delete the rest of this passage because I felt some of the intention behind the words were to gain acceptance for these grand understandings. I noticed a lot of “you’s”in my writing which felt off because how can I tell you to do something if I struggle with this practice myself? It felt quite disconnected to the feelings and understandings of being present. Presence doesn’t need to prove itself to anyone. It doesn’t need to educate or impress or win or lose or satisfy or anything. It needs nothing because it simply IS. By simply BEING it is enough, and far more than enough. But, that’s just it, presence also doesn’t need to feel enough, so how does one even go on writing about this superpower that we all have access to 24/7? I’ll allow my ego some grace and dive in.
Suffering. A word many of us have, had or will have a relationship with along this journey. Where in time does suffering exist? The past? Yeah, I’ve spent hours and hours replaying past circumstances in my head which led to suffering. I’ve also brought old beliefs to reaffirm my limitations which led to my suffering. Check. The Future? Oh yeah, I couldn’t sleep the night before a game because of my nerves about an event that isn’t even happening right now. I’ve gotten a panic attack thinking about a hard conversation that, again, hadn’t happened yet. Check. The Present???? I got nothing. I don’t think it’s possible for suffering to slither into that moment. Even when you’re in the middle of a heated argument, or get injured, or face your fear of public speaking, it doesn’t show up at that moment. It might sweep in afterwards when we replay the situation over and over, but it cannot exist in that moment because all that exists is that moment.
Like the first quote by Tolle said, when we are in shame, guilt or resentment, we are living in the past. When we are in a state of stress, anxiety and worry, we are living in the future. None of those exist in the present moment. When one is truly here in the Now, those discomforting feelings and emotions wither away.
This was a major realization, but it begs the question…if there is no suffering in the present moment, then why is there so much suffering in the world? Why are we so often taken away from the present moment?
That is where the rabbit hole begins.
The self actualized journey always starts with awareness. Have you experienced bliss from moments of unconditional presence? How did it feel? Then we hop back onto our wild rollercoaster of a life with To-Do Lists, obligations, work, hobbies, cars, neighbors, family, friends, music, sex, fears, stress, pressure, and more and more noise and it clouds that moment. That noise creates narratives that become habits. They become normal.
The noise is inevitable, like driving in the heat of New York City, it will be loud and boisterous. We could run away in isolation to avoid all of it to reach stillness, but is that what we’re really here to do? So, we must figure out a way to adapt and integrate stillness within all this noise. Now, we are looking at a practice. Just like learning any new skill (and as the name goes), one must practice presence. Just like practicing a sport for all my athletes, you’re going to have to sweat and burn and get pissed off and fail and fail again, maybe cry and question and breakthrough then fall right back down and keep pushing and pushing. It can be a grueling process. Once we shift our awareness so that no thought slips past our awareness that we do not desire (intention), we can tap into the potential of our higher selves. Once we make this shift, there’s really no going back, and the path to that self actualized, beautiful you….is the ultimate quest of the ages.
If we can add a little presence to our utility belt, we carry a superhuman weapon that will help immensely throughout this journey.
Over my two week void of social media, I played around with this new practice. I observed that we pivot hundreds of times throughout the day. Going from one act to the next. We go from our bed to brush our teeth, then take a shower, then maybe stretch, then journal, then drive, then work, then grab coffee, and then and then and then. We switch our attention to new tasks an insane amount of times throughout the day. So, what if at the end of every action, and right before the beginning of a new one, we stop…take a deep breath…say “Thank you”….then go to the next one? I tried this and it was amazing, but is it sustainable? Absolutely not. There is very little chance we will remember to do it before every pivot, I certainly didn’t. But…what if I remember to do it 5 times a day out of the hundreds of pivots? Well then that’s 5 times better than not doing it at all. It’s simple, brings in gratitude, feels good, and brings you into this moment. I don’t have a name for it, but give it a go.
The other day I listened to a Podcast with Aubrey Marcus and he talked about when he went on a retreat with Don Miguel Ruiz (Author of “The Four Agreements”). A true master. During this retreat, there was no question that Don Miguel was going to impact everyone with his words and immense wisdom, but Aubrey said that what made him a true master was his presence. WIthout saying a word, you can feel his mastery through his presence alone. When he would listen, he would truly listen. When he said goodbye, it was as if it was the last time he’d see you and when he said hello, he embraced it. He watched the sunset like it was the first and last one he’s ever seen. Just in awe and wonder of its beauty. So often we may try to help or please others with our words or actions, but giving someone the gift of our true presence…I think that carries more weight.
Have you ever poured a cup of tea to the brim and tried to walk with it? If that was you, I’d bet a lot of money you weren’t thinking about taxes or the deadline coming up in that moment. You were dialed in so that tea wouldn’t spill. Your presence in that moment, walking with that cup and not spilling it, is mastery. All that is required is intentional presence. Imagine taking this presence with you and bringing it into every other aspect of life: Work, relationships, hobbies, service, etc.
True presence is the ultimate gift you give to yourself, but also to others. True, undivided presence. Truly looking into someone’s eyes, ooooh baby I get the goosebumps.
How else can we practice the essence of the present moment? Even if we take a tiny step forward like a present inhale, that is progress, and I believe in striving for progress over perfection. Progress is being just 0.1% better than you were yesterday. Over time, that becomes a big number.
One of the best ways to bring yourself back to the now is through the breath. Stop and take three slow, deep inhales through the nose, and exhale through the mouth (Expand the belly on the inhale, contract on the exhale). Listen to the breath. Feel the breath. Welcome to the NOW.
Stillness is another way to dive into the present. Listen to the stillness. Meditations are a great way to practice stillness, but when the mind flutters, it is the breath that can bring us back to the now. Mantras like “Om” or “Sa Ta Na Ma” also help guide us back. Visualizations are amazing as well. Energy flows where awareness goes. Slowing our breathing helps channel the parasympathetic, bringing us closer to stillness, which can be achieved greater through extending our exhales longer than our inhales. When you are still, OBSERVE. Pay attention to your senses: Touch, See, Smell, Hear, Taste. What is happening around you? How do you feel in this moment?
Many of us may have crazy busy schedules, so a nice thing to do could be to set a reminder on your phone for once or twice a day. When the reminder goes off, stop what you’re doing for a few seconds or a minute, and breathe…observe.
Take a technology break and go out in Nature. The energy that nature emits is powerful. As Dan Millman says in Peaceful Warrior, “There is never nothing going on”, especially in nature. This is one of my favorite quotes (Another incredible book on presence is his book “Way of the Peaceful Warrior”). I can’t tell you how many times I used to say “I’m bored” growing up. If I had a quarter every time I’d buy a camper and travel the states with that bad boy. This segues nicely into another way to practice presence.
Jump into the UNKNOWN. When we stay in the known, we can predict it. When we predict it, we create a story, a narrative in our heads. The act of creating this narrative immediately takes us out of the moment. But, when we don’t know what to predict in the future, we are forced to live in the present. Sure, we can sometimes bring our fear of the past or future into it, but when you’re kind of on edge and not sure what’s going to happen next, your spidey senses heighten a bit don’t you think?
There’s also something about doing something slightly dangerous that keeps us fully in the present. This might be why Adrenaline Junkies do what they do. They are riding this high of being fully present in the moment because it could be their last. But, you shouldn’t have to contemplate death in order to come to the present moment.
James Nestor went to study and write about Freedivers across the world. These divers go to absurdly dangerous depths. Why would someone risk the pressure and dangers? The divers were drawn to the stillness underwater. It is truly another world, and I guarantee when they are in that world they are not thinking about anything else.
Ever see the Disney movie “Soul”? Joe was taken to another realm when playing the piano, but he wasn’t just playing, he entered this flow state, which only really happens when one is truly present.
What activities bring you joy? Oftentimes, they are the things that people tell us won’t support a living. It could be dancing, painting, acting, cooking, singing, writing, athletics, you name it. Bring joy into those moments. We’ve all had moments of doing the thing that we love, but some of us may have moments when we were truly present doing the thing we love. You know the difference. Being truly of service mixed with play is a dynamite combo.
Final advice…Sit and watch a child play at the beach or at the park or at school, or frankly anywhere. Children are the greatest teachers we have. They are reminders of what life looks like when we are not shameful of our past or stressing over our future. Never stop learning from the young ones.
As we come to an end, here’s some powerful advice from Eckhart from his book, “The Power of Now”:
“Wherever you are, be there totally. If you find your here and now intolerable and it makes you unhappy, you have three options: remove yourself from the situation, change it, or accept it totally” (82). To strip out of being a victim, one must begin to take responsibility, and taking responsibility means choosing one of those three options. Begin to reflect on moments in life where you are in an undesirable situation. How do you feel? What do you do? How do you feel from doing or not doing what happens next? You can always cope with the now, but it’s much more challenging to cope with a future event that hasn’t happened yet.
When starting off practicing presence, don’t overwhelm yourself. Start small. Get a taste of the now. This could be substituting “boredom” for “stillness”. When sitting on a bus, instead of being on the phone, simply sit and close your eyes and check in with your body and mind. Do some gentle breathing. When you are waiting in line somewhere, instead of filling the void with those cellular activities, check in with yourself. Observe your surroundings. Tap into those beautiful senses we’ve been gifted. But also, and this is big, don’t beat yourself up over indulging in that which you know might not best serve you in the moment. This is a practice and a journey of creating neuroplasticity and firing and wiring new circuits in the brain. It’s going to take time. Loving yourself through the thick makes the challenges more bearable, and if you have a competitive spirit, make it into a game. Challenge yourself. Make it fun.
Don’t be afraid to observe. People watching (in the least creepy way possible) is a great activity to learn about others…but also about you. While observing we may feel those judgements start to flood up depending on who or what we see. Detach.
It’s fascinating observing how people move and walk and talk and simply BE. Be present through your observations with others, or your observations with nature if you’re outside. Find small, short moments where you become fully aware that you are in this moment, then keep practicing. You will slowly begin to become more present in daily life, and your life and consciousness will begin to shift.
Presence is a form of medicine.
We can all access this moment and every moment. It’s a great power, and as the great Ben Parker once said, “With great power comes great responsibility” (Thank you Stan Lee for that one).
I love the saying “Move with grace”. There’s something about it that feels right. The best way to move with grace is to fully be there. So be there. I will fall from grace time and time again, but when I move with her…the game begins.
Move with grace.
Move in the now.