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Before I started working on myself, it was really hard to be present. Now, I’m able to be in the moment and soak up everything that is there to experience. Even for something as simple as going on a walk and noticing how green the leaves are, noticing how the sun feels on your skin, how the wind feels, the flowers that you walk past, and just being there. Not just focusing on your destination and just walking.
When you’re not present with your partner, you're on your phone or maybe you're checked out and you're not really with them at that moment. Same with your kids, you may be sitting with them and they're playing, but you’re somewhere else. Your body is there, but your mind and your energy are not there. That's how I know when I'm not present. When I feel like I'm in a hurry all the time. I'm irritable, focusing on productivity. What's on my to-do list?
What I noticed is that when I'm not present, I'm just living life on autopilot. Every day feels the same, rinse and repeat from the second I wake up just going through the notions of let's get the kids ready, let's eat, time for drop off. Then work, pick up the kids, get dinner ready, get them to bed, and then I numb out by watching shows or playing video games or doing something mindless. Then I go to bed.
When we live on autopilot, that means that we're not really being intentional or present, and we become more reactive. It affects our relationships, we become more disconnected.
Give yourself compassion for those times that you do end up back in that pattern, but also notice, how long has this been going on?
How long have I been on autopilot?
And being real with yourself, because if you've been on autopilot since the second your baby was born, then here's an invitation to ask yourself, is this what I want?
Do you want to look back and say, “Where did the time go?” and feel regret for not being the woman going after her dreams, the wife that was super connected and had fun and actually enjoyed her marriage, the mom that felt really close to their kids and felt like they were the supportive mom that they wanted to be?
Regret is a painful thing to experience. Someone once interviewed a bunch of seniors asking them what lesson they would want to pass on to younger folks, and they all said to make sure that you're not going to regret how you chose to live, and if you're on autopilot, and it's become your new normal, it's time to pause and check in with yourself.
Thankfully, I was able to get out of it and navigate through it and support myself.
Sure, we encounter stuff, we have life lessons, and we're not going to be happy all the time. But we shouldn't be sad all the time. Take a look at how you feel about life right now. Are you happy with it or is there room to make it more enjoyable? How connected are you with how you feel about your experience of what's going on at that moment? Are you thinking ahead or obsessing over the past? Are you able to just be in the moment and enjoy what's here for you?
My favorite example of how I can notice easily that I'm not present is when I’m hiking. My family and I love to go hiking. I notice that I'm not present when I'm just in a hurry to get to the destination and then head to the car. The reason why we're hiking is to be out in nature, to get away from digital life, to connect with ourselves and with each other, and with nature.
If I'm walking ahead of the group, just looking at where I'm going versus my surroundings, and I'm telling my kids to hurry up, I’m not being present. Another way is when I notice that my breath was really shallow.
In my journey to becoming a facilitator of breathwork, I've learned how to breathe more fully. Before that, I was probably a shallow breather for a long time. When I notice I’m breathing shallowly, I go outside and sit on our rocking bench. I sit there with no agenda, no phone. I just sit, close my eyes, allow myself to feel the sun on my face, the breeze, look at the trees, and just try to soak in all the sensations I feel, and see what would change about my breath, not forcing myself to breathe deeper. Just noticing what happens when I give myself this time.
When we spend time with ourselves, that's when we have more to give to other people. Pausing to give yourself that time is really a gift you can give to yourself, that's free. It's infinite. And it is so rewarding because you get to tap into that sense of inner peace. Then when we are in that place, you feel more connected with yourself, more intentional, more conscious and present. It allows you to be the woman, wife, and mom (and all the other roles) that you want to be.
Another way I support myself is to check in with how I'm feeling.
How often do you actually know how you feel? When people ask you, how are you? Our standard answer is generally “I'm good. How are you?” But we don't actually take time to be like, Oh, how am I? And over the past couple of years, I've noticed that with people that I feel close to I will actually ask myself that, and it always comes as a surprise, right? I'm not saying pour your heart out to a stranger but with people that you feel safe with, to be honest with, take that time to ask yourself internally oh, how am I doing? How am I doing? Check in with yourself.
If meditation hasn't worked out for you, you should check out breathwork. It's a fantastic way to get out of the autopilot, unconscious ways of living, tapping into your inner wisdom, your experience through your body. So that you can get out of your head and gain that clarity that you need or work through and heal, you know, unprocessed trauma that you know whether it's small or big that you've stuffed down because you haven't quote-unquote had the time to deal with it. It's helping your body process stuff that it hasn't had the space to do. Because in our society, what do we prioritize talking? And talking comes through the mind. But what about the body's experience? The body doesn't forget, there's been a book called the body keeps score. It's all about how our body stores our quote-unquote, native experiences, we've been taught from an early age that it's acceptable to express our joyful moments.
What about negative moments? Those aren't welcome, and so what happens, it gets stored in your body. So breathwork is a really great way to process that. As well as other things. Another way is journaling, just like any of these exercises, just allowing yourself to check in with yourself. When we allow ourselves to have this time and when you do the work to help yourself, be present, when you notice that you're not being present, you'll find that you have more patience, more compassion, you're kinder, you're more understanding, you're more empathetic, you're more fun, spontaneous, even flirty, you are more willing to receive compliments, support, whatever.
If we don't allow ourselves to be, if we don't give ourselves space, and to hold ourselves and support ourselves how we actually need to be with all of the distractions that we have nowadays. You're just going to be on autopilot. And again, how do you want to look back on your life? I certainly want to be like, Yeah, I lived my life. I was able to relish in the amazing moments, and I was resilient through tough situations and so on and so forth. So here's some time to check in. How present are you right now in this very moment? And what can you do? If you notice that you're not present, what would feel really good to you to go do to support yourself and then go do it, right? Go schedule it, go do it right now go interrupt your autopilot life and go do it, or ask for support for someone to watch the kids or whatever it is that you need to do, to go make it happen on a regular basis. Go take that break, and give back to yourself.
You don't get so easily offended by the tone by the word choice by the surface level stuff, you're able to really be in the moment, maybe even see through the words, the tone to what your partner actually says, and you're able to understand your experience what you want, and share it. Being present is super important. If you want to reduce the drama in your conflict and increase the vulnerability and emotional intimacy in your relationship, which thereby helps with connection, physical and emotional. So there's a lot at stake with your ability to be present, so go try it out. Let me know how that works out for you. I'm rooting for you.
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