How to Cultivate Presence for a Happier Life
The concept of being present has been known and studied for thousands of years. Presence is a part of many ancient religions and philosophies.
Philosopher A.N. Prior equates presence to reality. While the mind likes to return to the past or try to forecast the future, each moment is actually the only moment that exists.
The present moment is all we have.
And yet being present proves to be challenging.
Presence is the practice of mindful awareness of what’s right in front of you, without reverting to past experiences or worrying about the future.
Being present requires detaching from thought and engaging more with your physical surroundings. Learning how to be fully present is a key component of many forms of meditation, spiritual, and mindfulness practices.
Practicing presence has many health benefits, ranging from less anxiety and more calm, to better athletic performance, improved relationships and even aiding in healing chronic illnesses.
There are many ways to cultivate more presence. For me, the easiest way to invite in presence is through the body. Pilates is a natural extension of presence. Every class I teach begins with practicing presence. My experience has been that in just 3-5 minutes of mindful awareness, my mind slows down, my focus sharpens, and tensions held in the body are released.
My clients have called class "Zen exercise" which I love, because I know they are receiving the benefits too. I love that in those 60 minutes, the body is challenged while the mind is soothed.
Research has demonstrated that presence through mindfulness helps change your thinking patterns and it may change the physiology of your brain by producing more gray matter in specific areas. These simple practices can change your brain at a cellular level, enhancing your learning skills, memory, and improving emotional responses to day to day stimuli.
Practicing mindful awareness is a skill to help build a healthier mind and body, and enhance their interconnectedness amidst competing distractions such as social media, stressful emotions, and the demands of modern living.
The body is one way (and to me the easiest way) to do this.
Another way to channel presence is through the senses. This practice can be done anywhere. Choose to sequentially engage with each of the senses. Maybe it's easier for you to connect with one of the senses over the others. Start there. You can also start by noticing what you see directly in front of you. Then move to any smells in your surroundings. Then to touch. How do your clothes feel on your skin? Then notice where your body meets a surface. If you are eating or drinking, pay attention to taste and temperature.
Simple practices invite us to experience the moment. Adding Vitamin P has no downside, and is worth adding to your day, even in the smallest doses.
If you are new to practicing presence, here are two ways get started together-
Take a Homegrown Pilates class. Classes are offered 6 days per week online.
Join me for a live workshop this Thursday, March 2nd in Yardley. You’ll learn a radical approach to making lasting habits by integrating mind-body connection. Once you know how to do this, your life will change for good.
Hope to see you there.