What does it mean to you to be present? Can you tell when you are? Does it matter?
This is what I notice when I am not present.
This is what I notice when I am present.
So why, from someone who is often called (by others and myself) a mindset coach, does presence matter? What difference does it make to your confidence, or growth or bravery or contentment?
Simply this: if you are unable to be present with yourself, you are unable to be present for others. If you are unable to be present for others, your relationship with them shifts.
When we are unable to be present for ourselves, we are no longer attuned to what matters. If we aren’t attuned to what matters, we can no longer make good decisions that move us forwards.
In this life which is so full of busyness, we are called upon to multitask just to get things done. We are celebrated for our busyness and for our multitasking; especially as women where we are constantly reminded that it is a ‘natural skill’ for women to multitask, but men are never expected to. It’s not in their natural gift.
In a time when we are expected to be holding down careers, raising families, living wildly, leaping, creating a side-hustle, curating an instagram-appropriate life, sharing our vulnerabilities, creating mystery, working on relationships, yoga-ing, pilatesacising and becoming mindfulness yogis we are left feeling that if we can’t multitask, we fail.
But what would happen if you focussed on one thing? What would happen if you put your phone to one side when you’re having conversation, reading a book or watching a programme (if you get my newsletter, you’ll have read in the January edition that I am currently loving the French Netflix programme Call My Agent purely as it’s subtitled so i can’t not be present and in the moment to enjoy it!)?
What if instead of running to music, you ran to the sound of your breathing, of the birds, or the thud of your feet as they power you through?
How about instead of cooking, tidying, responding to emails and getting them to do their homework, you stopped and attended to the army battle scene they’ve just created with ALL their toys?
What if you attended that zoom or teams meeting and didn’t answer emails at the same time?
Can you tell when someone isn’t really listening to you. I bet you can. How does it make you feel? For me, I’m left feeling unheard, unvalued, unappreciated.
As a coach, one of the greatest skills I have in my suite of tools is the ability to really listen, to attend and be in the moment. If I can’t do that, I can’t bring my full self to the session in service of my client. If my client doesn’t feel heard, they won’t trust me. If they don’t trust me, they won’t open up. If they can’t open up and be honest in their coaching session, it’s never ever going to give them the experience they deserve.
I take this so seriously that I always craft time ahead of a session to get rid of whatever baggage I’m carrying for the day (write it down, go for a walk, do a Headspace session…) so that I can be focussed and away from the temptation to daydream during a session. In fact, I would never schedule a session ahead of something I know will distract me. Giving my client my attention for the full time is simply respectful and honouring their time.
So why am I writing about this today? Because I think it’s a kindness we can gift ourselves and others. But it can take practice.
Here are 10 quick and easy examples you can try today in order to be present.
I’d love to know if you try any of these and how easy or difficult you find them. Do you notice a difference to the quality of your attention? Do you notice things you might otherwise not have?