This day and age we are so absorbed in our phones that we forget to practice presence. We live in a distracted culture. We can’t wait to see what is going on in other people’s lives on social media, so much so that we forget to pay attention to what is going on right in front of us. It is so easy to get distracted and forget the practice of being present.
We know it is rude not to give the people we are with our full presence. We half-listen to the current conversations we are involved in because we are worrying about all the things that need to be done. While most of us lead incredibly busy lives, we lose out on the most important thing of all, spending time with each other. All the worse, thanks to our phone, we might be ignoring the person right in front of us.
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It says something about our culture when the big news of the day is Instagram and Facebook going down and we all freak out because we can’t see what everyone else is doing. Or when we get frustrated at our phones because they are working slowly or out of battery. In those moments, I realize I am more obsessed with my phone than spending time with the people in front of me. We don’t have to do it all for the ‘gram but we do need to focus on making timeless memories with people who love us.
This kind of lifestyle practicing being present isn’t strange. It is something that we need to do more often. There are a lot of great benefits to practicing presence and mindfulness. This is a continual learning process but the fruit you will enjoy in your life will be amazing!
How To Be Present In The Moment
We are so addicted to our phones. We check it upon waking up, while we are eating breakfast, or working out (hopefully not while driving!). We miss important moments that are happening right in front of us. It’s important to set aside time to let yourself just be. But so many of us have not made this practice that it makes us anxious even thinking about it.
Yet we all know that we should slow down and enjoy life more. We need to learn to live in the moment. The present – this exact moment. Not what happened 10 minutes ago or what is going to happen 10 minutes from now. It is now. Being present to yourself and others means consciously being in the moment.
Don’t multitask. Sit or stand near the person and give them your full attention rather than continuing whatever else you were doing. Make eye contact. Listen with the intent to hear. Use empathetic and reflective listening to show the other person you are hearing them and that you care about what they are saying.
Reduce Screen Time
Most of us spend hours a day looking at some sort of screen whether that is our computer, TV or phone. Excessive screen time can be harmful to our mental and physical health. Too much time on your phone can be damaging. Excessive phone time leads to lower concentration. FOMO (fear of missing out) is made worse with mobile phones, driving our compulsive need to constantly know what other people are doing. This will ultimately increase your anxiety, lower your overall mood, and you will most likely check your phone will you are in the presence of other people.
While it may not be possible to eliminate our screen time completely, there are ways that we can reduce it. Wake up without your phone. Give yourself time to wake up slowly. Drink a glass of water and sit down to read your bible or meditate. Prepare your breakfast and coffee/tea without your phone and laptop in front of you (yes without!).
Take a break and a walk. Stop to “smell the roses.” Seriously, observe what is around you not only for your safety but to see what is changing and who the people are hanging out in your area. Instead of rushing in the morning and checking your emails on the way into the office, choose to walk and enjoy what’s around you. Or, if you can’t before work, take some time in the afternoon to clear your mind without your phone.
Eating While Watching TV
It may be tempting to use your screen to catch up on the news or social media during meals. Most people are focusing on emails, Twitter, and texting as opposed to the flavor and quality of their food. A study shows that people would much rather watch TV during dinner than converse with the people they are sharing a meal with.
But take that time to practice presence with those around you. Talk to your family and focus on family time during meals. Additionally, there are so many health benefits when you practice presence and mindfulness while eating a meal. “What we’re eating, how much, and how often — those are the things we think about when we’re trying to lose weight,” McCormick continued. “The part we probably focus less on, however, is how we eat. And that is just as important. And it starts with putting down the phone and turning off the TV.”
Leave Work at Work
Don’t check your emails or communication channels while at home. While in the cutthroat corporate world, you may feel the pressure to keep ahead of the game, but constantly checking your emails at home can raise your stress levels. It is so important to leave work at work and practice presence with your family.
Live in the moment. No reason to feel guilty practicing the presence by living in the moment even with the looming deadline. Work is not life, it is a part of life. Spend time with your loved ones and/or friends as those are the people that you share your most cherished memories and belly laughs with them.
Face To Face Meetings
The internet gives us thousands of ways to interact and stay in touch with friends and family all over the world. But constant chatting on our mobile devices means our eyes are down on our phones an excessive amount. I am not saying we should completely stop using these platforms, I use them all the time. But I am saying we should never stop having face-to-face meetings (or hangout seshs) with our loved ones.
We are meant for connection. Research has long supported the idea that strong social bonds strengthen people’s mental health. “Phone calls and digital communication, with friends or family members, do not have the same power as face-to-face social interactions in helping to stave off depression,” says Alan Teo, M.D., M.S., lead author, assistant professor of psychiatry at Oregon Health & Science University, and researcher at the VA Portland Health Care System.
Cultivating presence allows others to feel heard and seen, which is what most people desire above all else. If possible try to schedule phone calls with distant loved ones or go to a local coffee shop and have a “conversation hour” instead of just texting.
Enjoy the Moment
Do you ever go to a concert or some other activity and enjoy the whole experience behind your phone? A photo of everything has become the norm. Sometimes it is hard to enjoy the moment.
Be respectful of those around you, they may not want you sharing the moment they are having with you. I don’t need to have my phone out snapping every memory I possibly can. Savor all the moments, from the evening walks with your dogs to the memorable activities with family and friends. Be grateful and cherish every moment you have while you are alive.
Commit yourself to be all there and be fully present for the things that matter. Spend time on activities that matter. Give those you love the gift of your undivided attention. As time goes on, this will become a natural practice in your everyday life. It will be so much more joyful when you put your phone away and live in the present moment.
14 thoughts on “Practicing Presence”
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This is so good. I’m bad about not being completely ‘present’ and need to stop multitasking and listen more intently. ❤
I love your suggestion of focusing on our meals without a screen. I’m bad about eating lunch with my phone. I try to combine all the downtime into one chunk of time, which is clearly not the same as practicing presence! Taking time to quietly rest & digest is so much more beneficial. Thanks for this reminder!
Now that our phones allow us to reduce screen time for certain apps, I make sure I stay within the amount of time I allotted and it helps my days be more productive! We can definitely practice being present in many ways…
That’s great. I need to find some apps that can help reduce my screen time.
I totally agree! I worry about the world my kids are growing up in. Their addiction to screens makes me question my own practices. I’ve become a strict mom about meal times, devotions and outside time before screens etc. I’m also that “mean” mom that won’t let my 11 year old have a phone even though he asks every single day LOL Great post!
This list is wonderful for us all Haley. The steps you listed are a reminder for us all to be Practicing presence. There’s so many distractions in life that bombard us for our attention, and our focus first and foremost should be on God, then family and those around us. Thanks for sharing your heart on this much needed subject!
Yes, God is definitely first and when we focus on him all the other distractions fade away.
This is a great reminder, Haley. I’m guilty of checking my phone and texting when I should be hanging out with loved ones or watching TV while eating. It’s time to be more present in their presence . Thank you!
I am guilty of the same thing. But if we practice presence enough it will become our first response.
Haley – great article. We always need reminders and the steps you gave help people know they can do it! Practicing presence seems to be harder and harder for many who are so accustomed to all the distractions in life.
This is great! Presence is so important in all aspects of our lives 🙂 Thanks for sharing!