When we are living in the moment, we can focus on what is important to us. When we are present, we are in our power. Though not always easy to achieve with our busy lives and brain noise that tends to interfere (research shows we have about 60,000 thoughts per day on average), being present helps us more inspired and creative. Taking it a step further, creation happens in the present.
The ability to be present begins with awareness.
There is a tendency for the human mind to travel into the past or future, rather than staying in the present. The direction — past or future — depends on if one is in fear that something negative will happen in the future, or is living a fantasy in the mind. Or traveling into the past where guilt and resentment call home; the place in the mind where we replay events that emotionally felt bad. Or, conversely, we want to hang on to a memory that felt good.
I am reminded of my last trip to Paris, an amazing city that touched my heart. There I had two profound experiences that served as great reminders about the value of being present.
The first experience was have dinner with a friend “in the dark” in a restaurant (Dans le Noir) that gives people an experience of what it is like to be blind. After the initial anxiety of not being able to see a thing waned, all my other senses were ignited — taste, smell, hearing, touch — and I became more present with my friend. It “opened my eyes,” because I had no idea how distracting our eyesight can be from being fully in the moment, with so much information being taken in visually at any given time.
Being present does not stop at relationships.
During my visit to the Louvre, I looking forward to enjoying the art of some of the greatest artists in history. However, my museum experience was ruined by the throngs of tourists armed with cameras who constantly captured images of everything. They were not being present and truly enjoying the art, but rather going into the future and securing their memories with digital media. But it opened my eyes and taught me this: it is best to be present during important events and life experiences “as we are experiencing them.” When we do, we can bloom and evolve, be more powerful than ever — and simply be more creative.
Here are 5 ways that you can stay present so your creativity will blossom.
1. Set your intention — prior to spending time with a friend, family member, or business associate, spend a minute reminding yourself to be present. Put it into your consciousness. Remind yourself that the person will feel cared about and you will get far more from the time with them.
2. Meditate — even if it is for a few minutes, meditation is a great way to clear brain noise and listen to the whisper of your heart. Walking is a superb meditation exercise for clearing the mind, as is yoga. Any form of meditation is ideal to do prior to working on a creative project, whether it is writing or painting, or other.
3. Relax – in those times when we are feeling nervous about being in someone’s company, the mind tends to travel into the future or past, depending on whether we are in fear or guilt. Just relax and strive to enjoy the moment. And this too shall pass…
4. Neutralize negative emotions — if you are feeling upset at someone or something, write down whatever is upsetting you and all the benefits to you for experiencing it. When we are negatively charged, our mind tends to fixate on it. Once we can rid of negative emotions, we can clear our minds and get on with it.
5. Breathe — remind yourself that all you have is the breath you are taking right now. Nothing beyond that is a guarantee. So breathe.
What do you do to stay present?
* photo courtesy of Gavin Spencer