Guest Blog: Give the gift of presence
I learn something every single time I step onto my yoga mat. Sometimes it’s an incredible new lesson. Sometimes it’s simply a gentle reminder. But it never fails and I always step off the mat more inspired and connected than when I started. I’ll be guest blogging each month to share my latest lesson from the mat with Kristin’s community.
Lessons from the mat: Give the gift of presence
A couple is sitting across from each other at a restaurant, with candles flickering, champagne poured…and they’re both on their phones.
A child is excitedly rounding third base on their way to scoring a run…and their family members are on Facebook.
These scenes have become our norm – we are constantly plugged in and tuned out. We check our email at red lights, our food gets cold while we try to snap the best picture, we text while driving or walking across the street, and we half listen to our partner talk about their day while we write a blog post –> guilty. It happens so often that we rarely even notice that we’re doing it.
The other day I caught myself scrolling on Instagram WHILE practicing yoga. It started innocently enough. I snapped a quick pic on my mat and posted it on Instagram and then I started my sun salutations. And a few minutes later I thought, “I wonder if anyone commented on my yoga post.” and reached for my phone. While in downward facing dog, I spent a solid 10 minutes scrolling through my phone. And then I stumbled over and face-planted on my mat. I immediately questioned why I fell over and it didn’t even occur to me that maybe it was because I was attempting a one-handed chaturanga while also being on my phone.
And, as always, my time on the mat provided me with the exact lesson I needed most.
My time on the mat, in meditation, writing in my journal, or sipping tea are MY moments. They bring me joy, quiet my mind, cultivate peace, and allow me to connect with myself. And the biggest gift I can give myself is to fully show up in those moments. And I certainly can’t do that with my phone in my hand.
The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly. – Buddha
Distracted is our new norm and in the process we’ve lost our connection to the present moment. As we move into the holiday season, I challenge you to give the gift of presence…to yourself and your friends and family members.
3 tips for being present
1. Put your phone in airplane mode.
There is no way around this one! Unless you have superhuman self-control, the phone is just too tempting and easy. The thought of being completely cut off can be too much. What if there’s an emergency? My phone has a ‘Do not disturb’ setting where it will only ring if someone from a designated list calls. That way, in case of an emergency, I will get the call but everyone else will go to voicemail. Start small with this one and work your way up to an entire day. The holiday season brings increased opportunities for connecting. Set the intention to be present during holiday parties, drinks with friends, and family gatherings. Collect the memories and not the pictures of your plate that you’ll never go back to look at.
2. Spend a few minutes each day in silence.
The key to being present is to be rooted in the stillness of the moment. The best way I’ve found to be more mindful and present in the moment is to have a regular meditation practice. This can be 15 minutes on my meditation pillow in silence or with a mantra, sitting outside and watching the leaves fall from the trees, or sipping tea at a cafe and simply observing everyone and everything around me. The quiet and stillness will allow you to actually be connected to the present moment. And the more practice you have with it, the more this will become your new normal.
The quieter you become, the more you can hear. -Ram Dass
3. Actively listen.
One of the best gifts you can give someone is to actually listen to what they have to say – really listen. You know how some people make you feel like you are the most important person when you are with them? Be one of those people. Don’t call your friend when you’re making dinner or folding the laundry. It’s okay not to multitask all of the time. Allow your breath to bring you back to the moment when you mind starts to drift. A few deep breaths with ground you. Look the person in the eye when talking to them. This automatically increases the connection and limits distractions. Ask questions.
Presence takes practice and there is no better time to start than right now! I challenge you to go offline for the next hour and see what happens.
Stephanie is a holistic health coach at Spirited Well-being. She merges spiritual principles with practical wellness strategies to empower women to lose emotional weight and gain healthy habits. Stephanie has completed the Spirit Junkie Master Class Level One and Two training with Gabrielle Bernstein and graduated from the Institute for Integrative Nutrition.