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The Practice of Being Present

As I write this I am sitting on the ground, leaned up against a rock, while my daughter sleeps against my chest. We just got back to the car from a hike and I chose to extend our time in the forest while she finishes her nap instead of waking her for the short car ride home.

I'm intentionally trying to slow down, because it seems these days I so rarely do. My days are often full-- as so many of yours are-- between work, parenting, partnering, and ticking off to-do list items. Between it all, I’ve been thinking about how to be more present with it all.

While I have the time today to really sit and rest, the ironic thing is that I do realize that being present is a practice that doesn’t actually take any designated time! It’s a mind state no matter where we are. Getting outside was simply my reset in order to remember this.

The practice of being present is observing our mental activity, our surroundings, and our inner emotional world without judgment. It is watching what IS. Being present is living a moment’s experience, taking it all in without the added mental chatter that our minds are so often swift to contribute.

If you take a moment and notice the minutiae around you, you just may realize it’s not minutiae at all but life buzzing all around and within you. My own present-moment awareness revealed a furry caterpillar climbing up a tree trunk, the sound of aspen leaves quivering in the wind, and feeling grounded and peaceful in my body walking amongst the trees.

I encourage you to take just a couple minutes today and stay present. What do you observe? How does your body feel while doing this? What’s the quality of your mind state?

It doesn’t matter what the answers are to those questions. It’s simply an exercise in the practice of staying present. The more often we do that, the more practiced we will be at bringing ourselves back to the moment. In turn, perhaps we just may experience a sense of slowing down. Couldn’t we all use that?

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