The Benefits of Choosing Presence

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“There you are—you broke another glass.”

This is me talking to myself washing dishes when I realize that I had eight glasses, and now just five. I used to laugh about my clumsiness and thought that there was nothing I could do about it.

I was wrong.

The first time I went to yoga, I discovered the feeling of an empty mind, and I couldn’t believe that for an hour my brain was just focused on the breath and my body moving. For years, I was deprived of this simple pleasure allowing my mind to be filled my thoughts about the past and the future—never living the present moment. I started to wonder if it was possible to replicate the same sensation in everyday life. I knew it wouldn’t be easy, but the purity of that emotion convinced me that was the path to follow.

The first time I tried to meditate, I was in a meditation group focused on chakras. When the teacher asked us to close our eyes, I was nervous; I remember that my eyelids were trembling. It was hard for me to sit still and I couldn’t stop my thoughts. Everybody seemed so peaceful and in harmony with their body—I wanted to experience the same feeling. The concept of chakras and energy centers resonated with me and the hands’ movements, that were part of the ritual during sessions gave rhythm to the meditation slowly taking me to stillness. Repeating a positive mantra (sound, word, sentence) can also be beneficial for people who struggle with meditation.

With time, I abandoned the hands’ movement, and I was able to immerse myself into stillness without preparation. The idea of becoming an observer of my thoughts without judging or engaging with them helped me find some emotional detachment and soften my tendency to anxious thoughts. I am still a bit clumsy and anxious, but I am committed to staying present in all my actions—I can recognize the negative pattern, stop, and bring awareness to it.

Being present is a conscious choice that we have to make every single day. Thoughts are essential to our human condition, but they can be detrimental when they create negative circles or obsessions. It’s also important to remember that when we are engaged in an activity, we should focus on that action and not let our mind wander.

What are the benefits of presence?

  • Relaxation

When we stop the flow of thoughts and focus on the breath, our brain has a chance to relax, experience full awareness, and open up to new sensations.

  • Focus

If we are engaged in an activity, but we are thinking about something else, we lose focus. It’s important to be mindful even when we do simple things—otherwise, we break glasses.

  • Creativity

When the brain has a chance to rest, it recharges itself and creates space for new positive ideas to flourish and help our creative efforts.

  • Gratitude

When we stop the brain’s activity and breath, it’s easier to notice and appreciate what we have. This awareness creates space for gratitude, another essential habit to experience happiness and fulfillment.