Is your mind continually racing? Jumping from one thing to the next?
Do you spend a lot of time in your head thinking, worrying, analyzing, rationalizing about things – things that have been, things that are coming up. Being somewhere other than where you are now.
There is a word for this – hyper-rationality.
The question is – does all this hyper-rational activity impact your ability to be in the moment? What are your concentration levels like in meetings, how long can you sit with your children, how much do you switch off in conversations, are you already restless with this article?
Pondering on this, I noticed something extraordinary when running; my mind would obsess about the end. I would be awash with thoughts like – how long to go, do I have to run the whole way, I can’t wait to stop.
It was clear that I didn’t want to be where I was now.
I decided to change my thinking consciously to see if I could get a different result and I was blown away. My new mantra was – there is no end, there is only now; there is nowhere to get to, there is only here; think the opposite, do not wish the end, but live in each step.
When I did this, almost immediately, I experienced a calm, a release of tension; the running became easier, my breathing softer and there was no more mental torture – no more wanting to be somewhere else.
With one of my coaching clients, this raised the question – what would it be like to live every moment not wanting to be anywhere else. Here’s what she reported back:
* conversations were far more effective – better listening, more able to respond, more connection
* meetings were more creative, more open to possibilities – and not shut down by a need to get on or be somewhere else
* less sense of overwhelm, pressure and anxiety through fully engaging in the task at hand
* a deeper, more meaningful experience with family, friends and chance encounters
All of this was summed up for me recently when a friend was watching Mischa Zverev play Murray at The Australian Open. “When are you going to show up?” she screamed. He was there in person but somehow he wasn’t fully present.
What does it mean to be present, to be where you are now? Here’s an exercise to become aware of how present you are and also to build this capacity.
1. Choose something to focus your mind on for 5 minutes – i.e. listen to birds, watch a river or canal, notice the shapes of clouds, observe nature while walking.
2. Notice how much you are able to focus on the chosen subject and how much your mind wanders with thoughts
3. Start to increase the length of time between your gentle state of meditation and your invasive thoughts
4. Now take this activity into all other areas of your life – notice when you lose your focus in a conversation, a meeting, a task, a game and how quickly you can bring your focus and presence back.