Thursday, January 21, 2016

On Being Present

Today for Spiritual Journey Thursday we are discussing Margaret's OLW "Present." Please join us!

How many times have I been working at my computer, and my husband walks by, speaks to me, and I respond, but don't look up, don't see him?

That's me, not being present.

How many times have I taken a shower and been so caught up in my thinking world that I didn't feel the suds on the fingers or smell the shampoo?

Yep, me, not really being there.

How many times have I, in my effort to get things done quickly and efficiently, cooked AND listened to an audio book AND helped a child with homework, all at the same time?

Again, that's me not listening to the book or to my child, or to the knife slicing through the onion, not feeling the rubbery surface of the cutting board or marveling at the sizzle as the onions hit the hot bottom of the pan.

The biggest thing that keeps me from being present in my life is ME. My mind just takes off and Will. Not. Stop.

Part of this is a result of the family disease of alcoholism, which taught me, from a very early age, that I HAD to think in order to survive, I had to do whatever I could to control my surroundings, I had to stay one step ahead of everyone else. Another reason is the dreamer in me -- how many times have I been focused on the past (often reliving or replaying mistakes and missteps) or so, so often, worrying about the future? I haven't always liked my "present."

This way of life made me crazy, and it hardly ever worked the way I wanted it to, so my answer was to think even longer and harder! Talk about EXHAUSTING. What a relief to learn that I am powerless over people, places, and things, and I can leave all those worries/thoughts/dreams/etc. to a higher power. This has given me a whole lot more time to be present in my life. And a lot more reason to love my life just as it is.

It's true that such a lifelong habit is a hard one to break! But here's the good news: just like the body can be trained to run a marathon, the mind, too, can be trained. For the past year I have subscribed to HEADSPACE, and I absolutely love it. It's a meditation app, and I use it right on my phone. I've learned to imagine my mind as a blue sky -- and my thoughts as clouds that sometimes go racing by and cover up the blue, but the blue is always always there. And with practice, I am finding that blue sky a lot more easily and a lot more often.

AND, even better news, I have been able to translate this to my daily life. I am much better now at showing up for my own life. Not all the time, but that's okay: Progress not perfection!

Now I recognize that being present is a way to express my gratitude for the life I've been given.

I will leave you with wise words from Melody Beattie:

"The magic isn't tomorrow or in some far-off place. The magic is in the moment and the exact details of the situation we're in right now." - Melody Beattie


  1. It's so true our basic survival can make that staying ahead of what is in front of us right now essential. And creative minds tend to wander. I suppose it is in the process of awareness of our actions we can orchestrate moments of magic. Thank you for the app recommendation. Sounds like it's worth a try.

  2. Interesting how so many Poetry Friday thoughts connect, like Margaret's "present" and your "Headspace" and Linda's "ordinary." xoxo

  3. No wonder your posts resonate with me! Thank you for trusting us with your sacred story. Purposely slowing down, purposely not multitasking, purposely being present to every available sense: I "know" what to do; I just don't do it. Thank you for the wake-up call, for the encouraging reminder about what we lose--on so many levels--when we try speeding up! God bless you! With His help and direction, I have every confidence you will succeed in meeting your goals!

  4. When we realize that we have complete control over our presence is freeing. Yes, I am here. That's all we have to say. Other things will take their place. Thanks for sharing yourself today.

  5. Irene, this post was from the heart and opened yourself up to a whole lot of reflecting on you. Loving our life is important and letting meditation take us to another dimension is liberating. The lines that resonated with me are: "I am much better now at showing up for my own life. Not all the time, but that's okay: Progress not perfection!" I think I will start showing up for my life so that I understand that the present is where I need to be.

  6. What a blessing to read your thoughtful reflection today. I too find it hard to show up for my own life, always concerned about the next thing on the list. Today I watched a DVD with a friend that I've been meaning to watch for two years. It was lovely to be present together and share those two hours as friends. Good to remember that the blue is always there since we are surrounded by gray these days.

  7. I enjoyed your frank post! I'm guilty of the same things--multi-tasking and trying to fit too many things into the moment. One of the things I'm trying to do as I observe my word "mindfulness" is really taste and enjoy the food I eat. As you say, it takes training.

    One of the things that has helped me when my mind starts worrying about past or future is to list in my mind (and sometimes a little journal that I keep just for that) the things I'm grateful for. I find gratitude is a wonderful tonic.

  8. Great post! That's incredibly important not to miss all those wonderful things that life gives to us. They are everywhere, in the taste of food, in hearing the voice of those we love or just in seeing the sunset. I've recently met a great girl at this asian dating site and I'm really enjoying every second of the time we spend together, I'll put all my efforts for us to be "present" for each other!

  9. Oh my - I could see myself in your scenarios at the beginning. Guilty on all accounts! Ultimately, though, your post is full of hope and positivity. You've given us the steps to move in the right direction towards being present. Thank you for your honest post! Thanks, too, for the app recommendation and beautiful quote by Melody Beattie.

  10. I relate too. I need to be present more for my husband and daughter. I get so busy writing, blogging, and commenting. Time flies. Thanks for this important reminder.

  11. Oh, Irene! I could have written this same post about my life. As a child, I learned to be a daydreamer to escape reality. I learned to be think ahead and be prepared for what might be, and I learned to relive the past moments when I made mistakes that I paid for again and again. As a young mother, I struggled with depression and wasn't as present for my sons as I should have been. I had to make some very hard changes in my relationships, but as time goes by, I'm learning to live in the present moment, and be grateful for it. Thank you for sharing this post. It really helps to know I'm not alone.

    1. Thank YOU, Linda, for sharing... no, you are not alone!


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