Being present is a bit of a misnomer. [Tweet “People assume that in order to be ‘present’ you must be present with them. “]
My trouble is that sometimes my version of being ‘present’ means being present with my own thoughts. This can get embarrassing when I’m in a meeting and my mind is absorbed in the way the sole of my left foot is slightly itchy.
I will always, ALWAYS, say that mindfulness is a way to happiness. Not the only way, of course, but a blooming good one.
However, now that mindfulness is so much more popular than it once was, back in the day when I first started out in yoga and there wasn’t a western word for being in tune with your body and mind, everyone seems to know what it is and how to do it.
But what are you supposed to be mindful about?
I have a confession to make at this point, as I have a feeling that I have probably written lots on the benefits of mindfulness and how to do it, without actually focusing too much on what you might want to be mindful about.
So, let’s say you’re washing up and you hate washing up. You hate the fact washing up exists and don’t understand at all why people haven’t invented self washing plates yet (they have) and why your flatmate / partner / child / third cousin twice removed refuses to scape the leftovers in to the food bin before dumping their plate in the nice clean foamy water you’ve just run…for the second time.
There are a few questions to ask yourself here:
1. Are you enjoying feeling annoyed, ‘cos some people do
2. Do you want to feel better?
3. Are there people talking to you (like, real people, not voices in your head…although if you’re hearing voices in your head you should really go get that checked out)?
If you answered yes to #2 and no to #3, you might like to try some mindfulness on things. To do this, you want to focus on just one thing – preferably one thing you’re doing rather than thinking. For our washing up scenario, I’d maybe focus on the food disappearing in to the water as you scrub the plates.
Notice the colour of the water, the temperature of the water, what the bubbles look like, what shapes the food makes, how cathartic it is making the plates clean again….
Hopefully, if you just keep bringing yourself back to the focus of making the plates clean, the background irritation will fade away.
The problem with this is that often the rest of the world does as well; so that cousin talking to you about the new course they want to do at the local college might as well be in a bar in the other side of town for all you can hear of him (see why we answered #3?).
If you ignored my advice about not doing this when someone is talking to you, you may well find yourself on the receiving end of a ‘Where’s your head at today?!’ comment. You were actually being very present, just not where the other person expected you to be present.
Learn to focus on what’s important to you, and let the rest fade in to the background, it makes for a much simpler life!