Practicing Presence

A full summer followed by a lull in the action. Is it the calm before the storm or is it simply the tidal wave-like ebb and flow of life? I can be really good at “to-do” lists and the “keep on keepin’ on” mentality. However, I can struggle with just “being.” I am practicing presence!

We are heading quickly towards Labor Day weekend and all of the related fall flurry. Consider devoting some time these next two weeks to practicing presence. Here are some ideas:

Step Outside and Invite All of Your Senses to Join You

Once outdoors, stand still and listen to the sounds around you. Last night I slept in a tent for the first time in a decade. There were a lot of nature sounds in the late night and early morning hours–whinnying horses, crows, geese, footsteps heading to the restroom, diesel engines departing the grounds, tent zippers and squeaky trailer doors!

Breathe in the fresh air! Are there floral smells fromdragonfly on tiger lily flowers or musky smells from animal waste? Are there manufactured smells from automobiles or maybe natural smells from a dewy morning?

Look around! Look down–what do you see? Is clover blooming in the grass? Are there agates hiding in the sand? Look up–what shapes are the clouds today? Shift focus near to far and back again. E.g. watch a butterfly or dragonfly flutter around.

Feel–how is the air on your skin? Are there bugs bugging you? Is the sun warming you?

Taste–if you are near a garden, taste some fresh produce. There is nothing quite like a truly fresh raspberry, blueberry or strawberry. I just picked a basket of tomatoes and am already drooling over the homemade salsa I’ll make tomorrow!

Propriocept–I think I made up a new word! Go for a walk! Feel the earth beneath your feet. Feel the pressure of those steps travel up your legs, through each joint. Invite your torso and arms into the picture–can they move in conjunction with the lower half?

Vestibulate–another potential Cindy-ism! Move through the air. When I was young, we had teeter-totters, merry-go-rounds, swings, monkey bars, hills, rock piles, and more. Our balance mechanisms were challenged every day and helped us develop our visual and auditory systems. Go swing or roll down a hill!

Take a Bath

Epsom salts can be especially refreshing to achey muscles. Add some lavender or other relaxing oil to unwind at the end of the day. Bonuses include candles or salt lamp, beverage of choice, and something to read.

Read

Read an article, a magazine, or (gasp) a whole book.

Sit

I like to sit in the recliner and watch the horses on the security cameras. The horses play and sometimes they spar. They have rhythm–each morning during my workout they take turns laying down and each midday they leave the grassy verdant to hang out in the shelter. Sit and observe life around you.

Cook

It feeds our physical being but also feeds our soul. Transform whole foods into something different. Whether a main dish or a dessert, cooking calms some.

In conclusion, I find calendars and to-do lists help me see when it will be most important to schedule relaxation. This summer I had a full teaching schedule with traveling. This fall I have two fully booked months with more teaching and traveling. In between I saw some blank spots in my calendar. Our family chose to spend one of those “blank” weekends in a tent, camping–sensory-rich environment, check; cooking-check; sitting at a horse show-check. I didn’t read or get a bath but I did get to practice presence. And it felt good!

Comment with your favorite “presence” practice!

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