“The sense of presence…is the result of a balanced watching and doing mind. When your mind is aware and crisp yet calm and seated in the now, you can move through the day without tension. You can indulge in the richness of the present and mindfully do what you need to do.” – Cory Allen, Now Is The Way
Our minds have limited capacity and, especially, attention. When we have a tornado of thoughts spinning in our heads, that leaves little room for being aware of the present moment. By clearing out those thoughts and judgments, we can reach a state of Mindful Presence.
“Mindfulness is simply a clear, non-judgmental awareness of your inner and outer worlds…When you are mindful of something, you are observing it, not caught up in it and not identified with it…Presence refers to the stability of mindfulness, which means the degree to which you are grounded in awareness itself.” – Dr. Rick Hanson
Mindful Presence is a state that has to be experienced to be truly understood. When present, your mind is not filtering your actions and conversations. Instead of thinking about saying or doing something, you just say it, or do it.
This may sound like an unrealistic ideal that’s only reached by meditating in a monastery for years. Actually, we all have the ability to increase mindful presence in our daily lives.
Being mindfully present transforms our experience of daily life. Here are four areas it profoundly impacts:
“Being present in conversation clarifies your thoughts and speech. This is because your mind isn’t simply wandering while you wait for your turn to talk. You are actually present, in the moment, and paying attention.” – Corey Allen
Your level of presence is most noticeable when you’re interacting with those around you. Often, we’ll be distracted by our thoughts when talking with our friends. Even planning out what you’re going to say next will take you out of the moment.
When you’re fully present, you can listen to what people say and understand the subtext, too. You’ll be able to more effectively connect with them and respond with empathy and awareness.
Mindful presence is essential to creating great work. When you’re engaged in a focused, mentally intensive project, there is no spare mental capacity for distracting thoughts.
By clearing out those thoughts, your work improves and proceeds more smoothly. You’ll be able to take it one step at a time, while experiencing less stress and less burnout.
Few things are more important to our happiness in life than our intimate relationships. One of the most powerful ways of improving relationship satisfaction is by practicing mindfulness.
Mindfulness has been shown to increase our acceptance of our partners’ imperfections. This enlightening study shows that mindfully accepting them as they are, instead of trying to change them, leads to a more satisfying relationship.
Another study shows that when one person in a couple meditates, it positively affects their partner. On the days they practiced meditation, their partner experienced less negative emotion.
What causes the most unhappiness is not the world around us, but our own minds. Being positive all the time is not the goal. Being present minimizes the thoughts that can cause depression, anxiety and mental illness.
Being present also cuts down on our suffering in daily life. Pain is our automatic response to being hurt, and it’s inevitable. Suffering occurs when we think about, increase, and extend the pain. This happens when we resist pain instead of accepting it.
Suffering = Pain * Resistance
By being fully present, we can experience pain without adding to it by resisting it.
Conclusion: How Should We Begin?
The science of mindfulness has exploded in popularity lately. The above chart shows the number of studies published on mindfulness each year, from 2000 to 2020. Mindfulness research has increased tenfold during that time.
There’s a great reason for this. It’s the same reason that meditation has been practiced for thousands of years. It just works.
Mindfulness and meditation help alleviate negative thought patterns, and beyond that, they increase joy and positivity in our lives.
In order to get started with meditation, simply download Headspace or another meditation app. It will guide you through your first 10 minutes of meditation. The first step is always the most important.