Steps to becoming fully present
“Time flies!” I said at the end of summer, when I was a teen. My mother replied, “If you think it goes by fast now, just wait until you’re older.” The world is moving rapidly and we have many luxuries that make life easier for us to do everything we need to do. We communicate by telephone, text, e-mail, instant message, social media, etc. My question to you is, “Are all these different modalities making us feel more connected or have they turned us into social misfits, who hide behind technology?”
Two couples are out to eat, at the new restaurant in town, and all four are checking their phones at the same time, instead of being heavily engaged in great conversation.
Your child runs into the house, proud to show you the “A” they received on their project and you tell them, “Not now, I’m on a deadline for work, you will have to tell me about it later.” The child walking away, sad and disappointed.
When we are not fully present during these precious moments in our life, we miss out on so much. Ever sit outside on a break from work and just “be.” Enjoying the sounds of the birds as you look up at the clouds, the sun warming your face, and appreciate the silence?
Over-stimulation of the brain, due to heavy use of electronic devices, has added to the increase of both children and adults diagnosed with Attention Deficit Hyperactivity Disorder over time. Although adaptable, the brain does not function as well as it should when it is constantly being over-worked.
In order to become more fully present, you have to take the time to slow down and appreciate where you are and what is happening at that particular moment in time. Show those you love how much they mean to you when you’re together. Make eye contact, listen to what they have to say, and nod your head, to let them know your listening.
Here are some steps you can take on the road to becoming more fully present in your day to day interactions:
1. Put aside a period of time each day to spend with your significant other, talking about your day or relaxing, without any distractions.
2. Wake up half an hour earlier and do some morning stretches or just sit and sip a cup of coffee or tea. Clear your mind and avoid interruptions.
3. Make a “Family Cell Phone Holder Box” and have certain hours each day (like dinner time) when everyone’s cell phones are to be placed in the box and are “off limits,” so everyone can spend quality time together.
4. When your mind starts to wonder and you start to think about what else you have to accomplish that day, picture a bright red stop sign and re-direct your thoughts back to where your focus is supposed to be.
If you make even one change toward becoming more fully present in your daily life, you should begin to feel less stressed, more joy, and most importantly, a deeper connection to your loved ones.
Written by Camie Vincent, LPC, LMHC
Llicensed Professional Counselor