Two weeks after the new year, I’ve finally gathered my thoughts and decided on my one-word intention for 2023. PRESENCE. Presence, meaning the state of being present, not just physically, but also mentally and emotionally. I see it congruent with mindfulness, being in the now instead of ruminating about the past or worrying about the future.
While presence is a familiar word, this word was inspired by Joanna Gaines latest book, The Stories We Tell in the chapter “Look Up”. She talked about longing for a sense of presence where she can be with the moments in her life as it happens. Joanna sounds like a person who’s always on the go, however she learned from being with her youngest son, Crew, about the art of slowing down.
“When my mind is quick to want to move on, Crew pulls me back in, helping me see how even the tiniest things can be worthy of our time…Whenever I sense that old tendency to overextend just an inch more, Crew is there to remind me of the small joys that can only be noticed in pause.”
In many ways, I can relate to Joanna Gaines’ story. I need to learn to hit pause, not only to appreciate the goodness and blessings of today, but also to have a moment to sit with my emotions instead of reacting compulsively. In haste, without tending to the here and now, feelings of overwhelm and frustrations bubble up into outbursts that turn to regret.
I’ve written about creating a wellness vision in past blog posts. I revisit mine every year to see where I can continue to learn and grow. I’m a work in progress, particularly with being mindful of my emotions.
So what does it look like to approach each day with more presence?
First, I have to take an inventory of what I’m in the habit of doing that takes away my attention to the now. And as much as I hate to admit it, it’s the ease of picking up the phone and getting a dopamine hit from social media. Perhaps, you feel the same way too! I’ve observed it many times how time quickly disappears from endless scrolling. Between Facebook, Instagram and emails, no wonder I’m less mindful of the people and things calling for my attention.
In the next couple of months, I plan to turn off notifications and hide my phone in the bedroom closet, where it’s out of sight. Out of sight, out of mind right!? In his book Atomic Habits, James Clear emphasized the importance of our environment in relation to behavior change. He pointed out that “visual cues are the greatest catalyst of our behavior. For this reason, a small change in what you see can lead to a big shift in what you do.”
“Let Be, Let Go, Let In” Approach
Another book I’m currently reading is Resilient by Rick Hanson, where in the chapter about Mindfulness, it presents three ways to engage the mind when reacting to unforeseen, upsetting events. I find this approach to be helpful with tending to my emotional upsets. The three ways are Let Be, Let Go, and Let In.
- Let Be is to be mindful of the emotions rising up because of the experience. To name it, allowing it to sink in and feel within. However, only observing and not reacting to it.
- Let Go is deciding to release the thoughts and feelings with a long slow exhale to let your body relax. Releasing can be done in several ways, whether it’s crying, yelling, or talking it out with a friend. I’m a crier so that is usually my preference of release.
- Last is to Let In. This is allowing pleasurable things to come into the forefront. Whatever it may be to meet your needs. Mine would be gratitude, counting my blessings, or having a good laugh.
Presence in my life every day
The other night, my 9-year old daughter was upset about not being good enough with drawing and making art in school. It pierces my heart when my kids are upset, but I often go into solution mode to make them feel better immediately, instead of letting them sit with their emotions. I caught myself in time so I decided to cuddle with her on the couch. Give her the love and attention she was most likely seeking. Eventually her mood lightened and we did what she enjoyed most doing – to read a book!
It was a blissful moment. One I would love to experience more this year.