How to practically practice (if that's even a phrase!) being present with those who matter most.
(No - not meditation - although that does helps in the long run 😉 I’m an engineer, far from a spiritual guide.)
⚡️ Eliminate distractions when you are purposefully practicing being present ⚡️
This seems simple - but in reality I've found this one quite difficult. But each time something pulls your attention away, it pulls you from the present. And most often that thing is that computer we carry in our pockets now.
It's so easy to get a "ding" and automatically pull it out to see what it is. But each time you do that, your mind is going to that thing and away from whatever you were doing. Multitasking is actually cognitively IMPOSSIBLE. Your brain is just task switching (sometimes so fast it's hard to even recognize it).
Schedule for yourself a block of time you want to personally commit to being present and set a timer.
I would NOT recommend you just say “the entire evening”. Start with maybe 10-20 minutes. If you can do that without any problem, great! If you can do more than that - well frankly - I probably need YOUR help not the other way around.
Literally, set a timer. I bought old-fashioned timers that we use for TV time, or even the timer on your oven. It could be your phone timer, but Step 2 may make you think about that.
Leave your phone, computer, TV, etc off and/or in another room.
Make it physically more difficult to get to your distraction - and it will give you a moment to actually think about whether or not you NEED to.
You know when you actually put snacks and sweets in harder to get to places (i.e. NOT left out on your kitchen counter) you will just automatically snack less? Same concept here.
Make it easier on yourself to do the thing you actually WANT to do….which is being present with your loved ones.
🤜Sign out of Teams (your team will see you are away and not expect an answer)
🤜Actually close your email (put AWAY your laptop if it’s in view)
🤜Turn off ALL of your notifications (use the FOCUS feature on your iPhone found in Settings. You can select who to “allow” notifications from so no fear of missing a true emergency).
🤜Take off email from your phone (or at least shut it down or only use the web version if not needed frequently).
🎯 Most things CAN actually wait. 🎯
Your brain is going to feel the urge to do something other than being THERE with your body. But commit to that time.
Being present is a SKILL. All skills are learned through practice.
You WILL be able to do the thing your brain is telling you to do - just not RIGHT NOW.
And if you are bored - that’s OK. If you are anxious - that’s OK. Learning to be present is not only not rushing to the next task, but also learning how to not be just rushing to the next emotion.
Use my favorite trick of snapping you back to the present: smell.
We often only notice the smell of something when it’s terrible (the “dog” farts) or delicious (cookies baking). But there’s a whole spectrum in the middle and smells I don’t notice until I actually pay attention: the smell of my kiddos freshly washed hair, the smell of fall leaves, the smell of my favorite hand lotion.
So, take a breath - literally - see what you can smell, and tell yourself:
⭐️ It is important to spend this time right now with my loved ones
⭐️ I will get to that thing / the next thing in ten short minutes
⭐️ I am practicing being present in this moment
⭐️ I don't want this precious time in my life to pass unnoticed
⭐️ I'm taking time today to BE in my life, not just do things in my life
It will get easier! Once your brain realizes it (and your to-do) will not destruct without a distraction for ten minutes, perhaps it can even handle more.
Commit to practicing with my free challenge beginning November 23rd!