Friday, November 25, 2011

Are You Present in the Here and Now

[084/365] Live in the presentImage by Lel4nd via FlickrBy Gail Barker

"The past is history, the future is a mystery, but today is a gift. That's why they call it the present."

While I don't actually know who to attribute this quote to, I can't deny that I like it. I like it a lot.

Sure, it sounds a little Hallmark-ish, a little sappy, but there's truth in it. I mean there is nothing that can be done about the past - it's gone. And the future may or may not unfold as you imagine. But the here and now, the present - this is a powerful place to hang out.

Unfortunately, the world in which you find yourself is a very, very busy one. There are numerous expectations to be met and therefore plans must be made in order to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. So the question that I often find myself holding is this: how do you stay fully present in this moment, even while you engage in whatever preparations are required for the future, no matter how distant?

I find this question particularly relevant at this time of year. It's rather ironic, because in so many traditions the coming weeks are a time of "being patient", of waiting, of celebrating the here and now.

But in North America, recent holidays such as thanksgiving (in Canada), Halloween and Remembrance Day are barely over and already Christmas plans are well underway. I'm guilty of jumping on that bandwagon, I admit it. While I haven't actually started Christmas shopping, I have contemplated lists, asked people for gift suggestions, scheduled some holiday get-togethers - and there's still 6 weeks to go!

Having played with this question for a long time - many years, in fact - my sense is that the key to being fully present while planning for the future lies in creating space for both, and, allowing the present to be your primary focus.

There's something about taking the time and doing what you need to do to anchor yourself completely in this moment, so that when you make your plans for the future, you're still here. It's about holding your focus in the now, knowing that you'll be able to do the same in the future, when the future becomes the present (and it will; just give it time).

I know it seems somewhat paradoxical. I mean how do you focus on this moment, when you're making plans for the holiday party that's happening in two weeks? Well, here are just a few strategies to help keep you anchored:

* Before starting a task, close your eyes and go inward. Focus on how your body feels right now.
* Root yourself; feel your feet firmly planted on the ground beneath you, and imagine a string travelling through your core, from the tip of your head, through the middle of your body, anchoring you to the present time and space.
* Quickly (but consciously and deliberately) inventory 5-10 things for which you are grateful right now, in this moment.
* Focus on your breath which, after all, is totally happening right now. Nothing brings you to the present moment quicker than this. Maintain your focus for 5 full breaths, filling your lungs completely, and exhaling fully.

Once you've engaged in any or all of these strategies, you'll be able to feel yourself completely engaged in the present moment. You're here, and nowhere else. And with this solid anchor, you can venture forth and make your plans, knowing that your anchor will do what it's supposed to do, which is keep you in this space.

Bottom-line: right here, right now is where you're meant to be. Yes, life is moving along at a somewhat alarming speed. There is much to be done. And, doing whatever needs to be done while keeping yourself fully grounded in the present experience will serve you far better than fast-forwarding through your life. Stay focused, stay grounded, stay present. Stay in the here and now.

Gail Barker is a Certified Professional Life Coach and Co-Author of The Control Freak's Guide to Living Lightly. Since 2002, Gail has supported hundreds of professional women, through coaching, workshops, and her monthly ezine, in shifting their lives from chaos to calm; her coaching practice revolves around the concept of ease.

For Gail, life is all about having every person experience success on their terms. To this end, she invites you to ask yourself, "whose life are you living?", and if your answer is anything other than "my own", visit Stellar Coaching and Consulting at to get on your own path to success.

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