Think back over your day. How often were fully present?
Take this quick quiz to help you determine how present you are during a typical day. Check the box if the accompanying description is something you experience on a fairly regular basis.
□ You have a hard time quieting your mind when you’re going to sleep or you wake up during the night with your mind racing.
□ When you reflect back on your drive to or from work, you can’t remember the details.
□ You don’t notice when you’re hungry and thus tend to skip meals/snacks. You forget conversations you had the hour, day or week prior.
□ You forget people’s names shortly after you are introduced to them.
□ You don’t notice body aches or pains until they impact your activity level.
□ You don’t always hear what others are saying because your mind is elsewhere.
□ You don’t really notice the music on the radio while driving.
□ You sometimes find yourself in a bad mood or irritated, but you don’t know why.
□ You have a hard time focusing on one thing at a time.
□ You miss out on quality time with your loved ones, because of your thinking about something else.
□ You use your laptop or other devices while attending meetings.
If you checked 3 or less: Not bad! You likely go through your day fairly aware. Your opportunity is to deepen your presence through connecting to your emotions, body sensations, and tuning into the unspoken dynamics of a room.
If you checked 4-7: This is pretty common! I suspect you have plenty of moments feeling present and then experience an equal number of moments where you feel less aware or as if you are “just going through the motions” of your day. Your opportunity is to deepen your awareness of the present moment so you pick up on even more information you may have missed.
If you checked 8 or more: You are in for a treat! Your busy twenty-first-century life may have gotten the best of your attention, and the good news is that if you’re reading this, you have great opportunities to improve the quality of your work and life through present-moment awareness.
No matter how you scored, know that everyone has room to deepen their presence.
Most of us have had plenty of moments when we felt grounded, calm, and clear. Can you think back to the last time you felt this way? That’s what it feels like when you’re present. Presence doesn’t mean you’re necessarily happy all the time, but someone who is present tends to feel a sense of wellbeing, unattachment, and/or clarity.
On the contrary, when we’re not present, we can feel scattered, agitated, and stuck spinning in our heads. When you’re in this state, you are essentially operating from an unconscious state or autopilot. Unconsciousness is like living and working from within a fog. We tend not to see things clearly our senses are dulled, our minds spin, and we easily forget or never notice the subtleties of each moment.
Being present and fully aware in the moment is our natural state. We come into the world fully aware, curious, and connected. It’s only through the conditioning of our mind that we stray from our natural state. By interrupting our daily habits with a breath, a simple noticing of our environment or tuning into our senses, we experience a bit more clarity and our overall experience will likely shift.
This excerpt was pulled from my first book, Get Present. The practices in this book aren’t about learning anything new; rather they are about remembering. My hope is to help you remember your natural state of presence and experience all of the richness and wisdom that comes as a result of being in our truest, most natural state.