In today’s fast paced technology inundated society we have information and stimulation literally at our fingertips every second of every day. In addition, we are busier than ever with work, deadlines, family, etc. We have taught our brain to deal with the overload, we call it multi-tasking, but it has come at a cost. I see it often. We have lost the ability to be present. Even as I write this I am getting texts on my phone and watch which are distracting me from being one hundred percent present in writing. My distracted mind cannot truly focus on the task at hand. Neither can yours. There, for the time I need to write this post, I have turned my phone to airplane mode so I can be present and focus solely on this project.
The first time I learned about being present was during my nutrition school in 2007. One of our teachers spoke on the topic, and made the point of being present while we eat. Most of us are checking emails, scanning social media, watching TV, or eat during meetings. We finish a meal and have no clue how the food really tasted, and we certainly didn’t chew slowly and thoroughly enough to properly digest the food. We were given the fun assignment of a “slow eating contest” during lunch that day. We were to put our phones away, we could engage in conversation during the meal, but we had to be very mindful of our food and actually take the time to eat. It was quite enjoyable and truth be told the food tasted better. This is just one example of being present. We also get distracted during conversations, while driving, exercising, and honestly by most things in life. We are so damn “busy” that we hardly even know what being present means.
So here are my challenges for you:
- The next time you are in a conversation with another person put your phone somewhere where you cannot feel the vibration of a notification and of course turn off the ringer. Look the person you are speaking to in the eyes and truly engage in the conversation. Be present
- At your next meal do the same. Turn off your phone, if possible go outside or sit somewhere inside with a little music if you want, NOT a TV, and eat you food. Chew each bite at least 15 times and really taste the food. You may notice that you actually eat less. That is in part due to a hormonal release that happens when you eat that signal fullness after about 15-20 minutes. When you eat, be present
- Go for a run, walk, or bike and don’t listen to music. Yes it actually is possible. Pay attention to your breath, breath rate, the sound of your feet striking the ground, or cadence of your pedal stroke. LISTEN to your body instead of distracting your mind until you complete the session. This is a big one friends, especially regarding performance. If you want to perform you have to listen to your body, and I mean actually LISTEN to your body as I just described. Think about a racecar driver listening to the car engine for the slightest little “tic” that could mean it is not running to its full capacity. Why don’t we do the same for our bodies? When you run, walk, or bike, be present
- Lastly breathe… Before you talk with someone, before you eat, before you train, and really anytime you engage in any activity be it mental or physical, breathe. Take 3-4 cleansing, relaxing, diaphragmatic breaths, and say on each exhale, “I am here, I am present, I am engaged”. Give it a try and I bet that whatever you then dive into will have a better outcome J.
Now I will turn back on my phone… Wow the world still rotates and no one imploded due to the lack of an immediate response. Be well my friends, be present, and spread the word.