The term “being present” is often heard, yet rarely defined or described. Perhaps it has different meanings for different people, but to me, being present means being consciously aware of all or most aspects of your being (the precise status of your whole body, emotions, and mind) right NOW. Being present means actually registering the sensations of various body parts, noticing the thoughts flitting through the mind, and the emotions surging through the body. Being present allows perceiving and choosing between better and less desirable states of being or situation, and making course corrections when some aspect is not as desired. Being present creates greater possibility for and ability to carry out desired changes.

As an example, part of being present is noticing when your posture is not good (perception), realizing the harmful effects of poor posture and benefits of good alignment (awareness), and acting on that understanding by aligning your body well. Posture is one of the most fundamental aspect of being present. People who maintain good posture generally have accomplished an important part of being present. (Posture bonus: besides aiding being present and allowing internal organs to function better, good body alignment is a form of exercise, working core muscles to prevent or reduce middle-aged pot belly resulting from gravity, lack of use, and loss of muscle tone.)

This same perception-awareness-action technique may be used in any area of life to ensure that precious, irretrievable moments of our too-short lives are not wasted on repeated mistakes, trivia, regret, obsessing over pain, or engaged in harmful activity.

Substantial effort is required to achieve and maintain being present, and so it is rare. Proof of the rarity is how commonly we see people slumping, not taking care of their health, staying locked in negativity, or not learning new skills or expanding their minds. People would change these things if they really noticed and understood the full consequences of their actions and behavior. But noticing takes effort, understanding requires study and thought, and action requires exertion. A desire to not make special efforts or exert ourselves is, alas, part of the human condition, and distractions are everywhere. To change this situation, we must overcome the resistance of our demons (delusions and negative thoughts and emotions) which never want to work or act constructively, so we can focus on our best interests.

When we are not present, clutter easily builds up, lateness or missing deadlines is frequent, and addiction remains in control. We quickly become desensitized to most continually experienced sensations (“nose blind”, in TV ad terms, but all senses become desensitized), even to unpleasant or painful sensations. Desensi-tization allows ignoring uncomfortable stimuli, particularly when taking note of them would cause distress, require action, or habit change. Thus, we overlook increasing layers of dust or clutter, the look of annoyance on the faces of people we keep waiting, or the impact of addiction on our lives.

However, giving up awareness of annoyances comes at a steep price: 

When we become more present, that is, more aware of our bodies, thoughts, and feelings, we naturally want to take better care of them. That desire causes us to correct anything amiss in our being, surroundings, or relationships. We become less susceptible to our demons telling us that change is too much work, and become more willing to tackle whatever must be done to make things better.

Thus, being present leads to greater ability to be organized, on time, and free from addiction by making us less willing to tolerate the discomforts caused by those conditions. If we are present, self-delusion, such as telling ourselves that clutter does not matter, people won’t judge us for being late, or hoarding is harmless, becomes harder. Instead of being locked in fantasies, we can tackle reality and re-shape it more to our liking, best interests, and real needs. Major changes and goals can be achieved, but they depend upon the moment-to-moment decisions and actions that determine your life. Being present allows better managing your¬†minutes so that the hours, days, and years will be better also.

Being present helps with staying focused on your goals, whatever they are. When distractions or demons pull you away from being in the NOW, the habit of being present can help you quickly find your way back (Clue: being absorbed in negative mental dialog means you are not present). After experiencing the calm of being present often, feeling distracted or listening to demons will feel wrong and the discomfort will pull you back to the present and your goals. Being present will help you be less tolerant of clutter, to want more for yourself than to live in disorder or addiction, and to want constructive accomplishments.

Being present is greatly aided by meditation, conscious relaxation, some forms of martial arts and exercise, and other calming and awareness-building practices. Such practices can become keystone habits that support other constructive changes, enriching every aspect of your life. Fifteen minutes a day on any of these practices will greatly aid becoming more organized, healthier, and happier.


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© Gloria Valoris, 2015

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