What does it mean?
I like to think of it as being emotionally and physically balanced with the here and now. Acknowledging where your body is at and aligning your mind with that, being present in the moment you are in.
This is something that I never used to even acknowledge as important or even think about, ever. When I was a teenager and in my early twenties, being present was never a active thought in my brain. To be honest sometimes I was doing the opposite of being present to avoid social anxieties which therefore fed the giant beast of anxiety itself. I was actively making myself not present. I would avoid seeing friends when I felt low or just staying home because going out filled my heart with palpitations.
I often talk or write about how age really affects people and changes them, but this isn’t to discredit anyone younger than myself but for me, I’ve found a great sense of maturity through getting older. I can see myself clearer and see what I want out of the world with a heightened perspective now I’ve aged slightly. But this isn’t to say I’m a perfect human, of course not; I’m flawed without a doubt. And that realisation has come to me through maturing and being present and understanding myself more.
This in turn has made me realise the importance of being present. To be able to drown out the distractions and focus on the here and now. To the connections I have with the people closest to me. And right now the only person I’m in close contact with is my boyfriend that I live with. So making sure we’re present with each other and nourishing our relationship is so important because person-to-person contact is few and far between at the moment. Yes these Lockdowns are hard and testing but they can also make relationships thrive because more time can be put into developing the foundations that are already there. Rather than picking fights, it’s more worthwhile to care for the relationship that’s being built.
How to stay present
Firstly communication is always key to any issue, any fight, any relationship as a whole. Talking and opening up about your day, your fears, your concerns, your happy moments, your dreams, whatever it may be; if you’re wanting to make a relationship work, any relationship, then talking is vital.
Having deep conversations about feelings and emotions can be so beneficial to staying present in each other’s lives. We can get so distracted by outside influences and lose track of the other person in the relationship. We can take them for granted and inadvertently get complacent and resentful.
Opening up about mental health and wellbeing is really important, especially at the moment with Covid and Lockdowns. It’s important to remember the other person is still a human being and not just a presence in your life. They might be struggling and be good at hiding it, so open the conversation up to that topic and listen intently.
I find myself scrolling mindlessly on social media, never feeling content at what I’m doing. It’s just something to keep my eyes and fingers busy. When I stop and realise it’s been a whole hour and I’ve not said a single word to my boyfriend who is sat right next to me, I have to shake myself! We’ve become so engrossed with our phones, the instant gratification, the instant laugh, the instant source of information that is probably not worth knowing anyway. So because of this addiction, I have started leaving my phone in a different room on an evening. If we’re watching a film or a series, I actively acknowledge I need to be present so I remove the distraction. I want to be present in what we have agreed will be our activity for the evening. If I’m on my phone throughout the film, then I can’t discuss it after which could have been a chance for a meaningful conversation about our collective thoughts. So it’s about removing that distraction which isn’t relevant to the situation.
Staying present with yourself is always important for personal growth and development. I try and check in with myself as much as I can. I find a great comfort in writing. Blogging has really helped. I can get my thoughts down and out of my brain. If I’m inspired by something, even if it’s so insignificant, I can get creative and channel that into a post for others to read and maybe find something helpful, or relaxing about it.
I write in a diary too. I recommend this to my friends all the time. It doesn’t have to be a ‘dear diary’ thing. I write the date and my thoughts just follow (it also helps if it’s a pretty diary). Maybe bullet journal, or ask yourself questions about how are you and your thoughts of the day. This is a simple way of staying present with yourself; understanding who you are and working on yourself and allowing that to happen with no judgement.
I write about this a lot so I won’t go on too much, but I find meditation really powerful. Every time I feel disconnected to myself, people around me, the everyday aspects of life, I simply meditate. I find a comfortable position on the floor usually or in bed, the lights are off with candlelight and fairy lights as the only source of light. I shut my eyes and focus on my breathing, or a single thing that makes me feel relaxed or a part of my body. Sometimes I imagine being on a beach or simply a palm tree. I put my full attention into that. I play calming music and just stay in the space I’ve created for sometimes only 10 minutes, mostly around half an hour to an hour of pure uninterrupted calm.
There are so many articles out there about being present and mindfulness as a whole. It’s definitely a ‘trend’ that’s speaking to more and more people and I totally understand why. Having your emotional self be engaged with your physical state is key but can be hard. It can be a struggle to connect those two aspects of yourself. But by taking time for yourself to fully embrace your mind and emotions will work wonders for yourself and then in turn help deepen relationships with others.