Have you ever been in a conversation with someone who wasn’t really there? Better yet, have you ever been in a conversation with someone and you weren’t really there? Or, have you ever been in a meeting with several people, yet nobody was really and truly there? Most likely, you can unequivocally say yes to all of the above.
From time to time, and more often for some of us, we allow something outside of ourselves to distract us from what’s happening in the moment. I sometimes find myself becoming distracted. I allow my thoughts to take me on a mental detour. Whether I’m diverted by other people’s behavior or drawn into their drama, these diversions mean my mind is not where by body is.
When we allow ourselves to be distracted from what’s happening in the moment, those around us suffer. Our children are affected, our spouses, our partners, our friends, our co-workers, or anyone we might be connecting with in the moment. We send a message to that person that he or she isn’t important enough to hold our attention. Our words may say “you matter,” but our actions scream something else.
Here are some other consequences of not being fully present:
- You miss opportunities to connect in ways that can only happen when you’re actively listening.
- You miss useful information that could help you get through a rough period.
- You can become misinformed, and open yourself up to misunderstanding because you only have part of the story.
What can we do to be more present in each moment? How can we bring our mind in alignment with our body?
- For starters, admit your mind in not always where your body is.
- Become aware of those times when your attention is diverted in another direction. Call it what it is!
- Be willing to see the damage to yourself, to your relationships, and to your serenity when you are not fully present. Get honest about how it affects you and others.
- Be a careful and attentive listener. Listen to understand, not to judge.
Bring to mind a time when you body wasn’t where you mind was. What happened? What drew your attention anyway from where you were? What could you have done differently?
I invite you to practice being in the here and now. Whenever your mind wants to move away from where your body is, gently bring it back. You may find it challenging at first, but as most things, it’ll become easier over time.
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