Many of us find it hard to be present where we are.
I think this is because of the way our minds are wired – all the inputs that come in are digested and re-worked in our brains. Often, we are still processing something that happened some time ago, rather than actually being able to be in the here and now.
I know for me it is easy to be distracted – and I don’t believe I am unique in this.
I can be listening to someone, but my mind is only partially concentrating on them, while at the same time it is working on a shopping list of other things – what do I need to achieve tomorrow, what was that last film I saw really about, how can a solve this problem I have.
Or I am distracted by other things in the room – by overhearing another conversation, or by the smell of coffee from the other room, or even by the quality of the light coming through the window.
Often, my mind is spinning around with all these thoughts, and it takes an effort of will to actually be present with the person who is talking to me.
And yet it is the greatest compliment we can give someone to be actively present with them, as well as in their proximity.
It is not only with other people, but in every aspect of our lives that we need to be present. Sitting at a desk, or walking in the countryside; working in the garden, or relaxing in a hammock – any activity we undertake can either be something we just do, or something we are present for.
I know both of these are possible. Sometimes, when I have a problem I am really struggling with, I will go out walking and come home again, and be totally unable to recall anything I’ve seen on the walk. My mind has been going over and over the issue, and I was so preoccupied I was not present in the world; it’s as if my body was in one place, but my mind in another.
And yet at other times I can walk and be really present – I notice the sky and the clouds, the feel of the air on my face, the sounds of my feet and the life around me.
And, strangely, it is often after this sort of time, when I have been present for the world and not in my own universe that issues I have seem to resolve themselves.
Or maybe it isn’t strange, because if a problem was really solvable by worrying about it, then it was not really a problem. When I am present for other people, they are able to be present for me too. When I turn up and be present of the world, then the world is present for me.
Being present in the now is the best gift we can have.