Note to Self: Get Present
During my studies with IIN, the founder (and main lecturer), Joshua Rosenthal, would often refer to walking the talk as being paramount to everything. It alway made me laugh how he would say “I’m telling the clients to eat more kale and writing down for myself “note to self: eat more kale””. We all inherently know what we need to do, but we often need reminders and accountability to help us succeed. It is important to remember that, even as leaders and coaches and teachers in the health and wellness community.
This is definitely one of those moments for me; I’m writing a blog post to (hopefully) help others, but also absolutely to help myself.
I think smartphones were possibly the worst invention of all time. No joke.
Since getting my first iPhone, about 8 years ago, my attention span has gotten SO bad and I notice I spend most of my
time life online. I can barely read 10 pages of a book without having to pause to check WhatsApp. I don’t spend enough time being present with my family, friends or cats, and I walk around most of the time attached to my phone. When I travel (not driving don’t worry ha) between clients I’m typing emails, notes, class plans or stuck on social media. WhenI’m getting fresh air I’m still doing the above, while listening to Spotify.
And, from occasionally looking up/around at the people around me, I know I’m not the only one. We’re all hunched over tech, tap tap tapping away on our phones, and losing sight of what’s really important.
What’s really important?
Here and now.
And where are we in the here and now?
ON OUR STUPID PHONES.
It really hit home just how incredible it is to not be on my phone a couple of weeks ago. I was walking up a hill to teach a client at their home in Colinton, when I looked up from my phone. The sun was shining over the Pentlands in the distance. I took my headphones out. The birds were singing.
I genuinely could have cried at that moment. I put my phone away, and slowed my walk. Looked around, trying to catch sight of the birds in the woods nearby. Felt the sunshine and the fresh January breeze on my skin. It was beautiful.
Busy busy busy
Why are we so obsessed with being busy? I hate it when you ask someone how they’re doing and they reply “great! I’m really busy”. Like it’s a mark of success. I would much rather hear that they were happy or relaxed, or even that they are stressed out of their eyeballs because they are so busy and they want to slow down. Why is BUSY a milestone for success?
Like when you are asked what you’re up to that evening and you panic because you have nothing planned and you can’t wait but at the same time you feel bad for admitting that. Yeah. That.
Let’s make stillness cool again.
Enjoy The Moment – And Get Present
Now, let’s get back on track. Here are some easy tips on how to get present that I’m finding really work for me:
Put your phone/tablet/computer down
As most of my communication with clients etc is done via email, I can’t exactly not check my phone every day. I’m sure lots of you are the same too. What I’ve been doing lately is only letting myself check my emails once every 30-60 minutes. Set a timer if you have to (hello willpower).
I often delete the Facebook app from my phone to make it much harder to check them (who likes opening them in the browser anyway?). It is quite frankly terrifying how often I will unlock my phone to open a social media app, only to remember that I deleted it days ago. Time to break that habit guys!
Another great thing to do is to try to cut down on screen time after 8pm. I’m still yet to conquer this ha, wow I’m really sounding like a phone addict over here… but it’s one of my aims. This will set the stage for a lovely relaxed evening, and help you sleep better (no blue light).
Whenever you realise you are somewhere else, bring your attention back to the present moment. This will give you up to half a minute of complete presence. As time goes on and you become better practiced, you will spend more time being present, and less time in your head.
Find your focus
Stop multitasking and focus on one thing at a time. This can be big, like trying not to take on too many projects at work at the same time. This shift to more focus can also benefit your everyday life.
For example, in the not-too-distant past I would empty the dishwasher, and notice there’s a raw chocolate wrapper on the kitchen counter. I would leave the dishwasher and go to put the rubbish in the bin. I would then notice the bin was getting full, and before I would take the trash out I would have to make sure there wasn’t anything else that needs to go out in the rest of the house too. Maybe on that trip round my house to check the bins I would happen to see that the plants need watering. Etc etc etc. And the dishwasher never gets emptied.
It feels stressful just reading that! Yet I/we are putting that multitasking/min-maxing stress on ourselves every day.
Let’s put our focus on to the important tasks, or at least not move onto one thing until the previous task is completed.
Yoga and Meditation
Mediation helps me get present like nothing else. These days I try to spend 10 minutes on three different morning rituals – meditation, journaling and yoga. If I do more then that’s great, but I always try to do my 10/10/10 (like I mentioned in this blog post). I notice a big decrease in how much I use my phone and my general sense of presence if I don’t do this simple ritual in the morning.
Meditation doesn’t always have to be a formal practice though; it can look like taking 5 really full breaths before you leave your house. Or it can be a mindful practice of paying attention to the sounds and sights around you as you go for a walk.
Yoga is of course very similar – it is essentially a moving meditation focusing on the breath. When I get on my mat it is as though time slows down loads, and I can take full deep breaths. As well as being a meditation, my practice is also almost like playing; exploring movement in space and just having fun! I can help you achieve this in your practice too!
We Can Do This!
Who’s with me in wanting to get more present this year? Let’s support each other!