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Being Present

by on March 18, 2012

Tennessee Williams once said, “Life is all a memory, except for the one present moment that goes by so quickly you hardly catch it going.”  I know my days are filled with more tasks than could ever be comfortably completed, professional demands, the responsibilities of child rearing and the desire to be a supportive spouse.  I believe that most of us exist in this state.  How can we teach ourselves to cope with the stresses of the world?  How do we accept that the future will not be changed by our decision to dwell on that which we have little control?  I think the answer is to continually remind ourselves to live in the present.

I’m a rookie in the quest to be present.  I have to remind myself to stop and focus on the activities that are going around me at any given moment.  As I sit to write this short post, I’ve been interrupted five times by others needing my help immediately. I’m a mother, and a wife, and interruptions come with the territory!  It’s worth mentioning, because with the first three interruptions, I became immediately frustrated and felt a loss of control over the expectation that I would just get this completed.  As the interruptions continue, I’ve started to realize that I’m not being present.  I realize that my expectation that I could share my pursuit to incorporate mindfulness into my life, without interruptions was simply my expectation.  Arguably, it was a completely ridiculous expectation, at that.  Truly, making time to stop and experience life, time to focus on what is happening rather than succumbing to some frustration concerning what should be happening, is an ongoing battle.  Deciding not to dwell on any internal expectations over what should be happening instead of what is happening is stress relieving.  Making a resolution to not worry about the future, or regret the past helps us free ourselves from that which we cannot exert complete control or erase.  Living in the present allows us to think clearly, to make reasoned decisions, and to remember the moments we are experiencing with greater clarity.

How do we incorporate the practice of being present in our life?  It only takes a moment of stopping one’s thoughts in the middle of the chaos to focus on the events and turn off the expectations.  I become aware of frequent moments when I am running a marathon in my mind.  I remind myself to clear those thoughts, turn down the noise and breathe. It seemed silly at first, but something about noticing one’s breathing pattern is at once calming and centering.  It only takes a moment, and the stress seems to melt away.  It’s sustaining this moment that is the trick!

I also try to clear my thoughts as I take in what is going on at that moment.   Clearing my thoughts is difficult.  It involves stopping any judgment over what I feel should be happening.  Detaching from the stress of the moment allows the mind to concentrate on the present.  I work in a fast paced, highly emotional profession.  I find myself frequently in situations when I recognize that I am not in complete control, and that as a mere mortal I am unable to change an outcome.  In an effort to remain present in those moments, I sometimes sneak into a storage room, stare at a wall and take in a couple of deep breaths.  I acknowledge that I have no room in my thoughts for trying to control the outcome, but that I need to be aware of each task that I am taking on, as it is happening.  This practice allows me to regain control of myself.  Often, this is the only control that we can hope to attain.

Because I am a student, I frequently read the advice of people more practiced in the art of being present.  They often speak of meditation.  Maybe some who read this can speak toward that practice.   I must admit that I have yet to sustain a clear mind for any longer than 10 minutes or so, but as a student, I consider myself a continual work in progress.

Krista Wilbur Maloney


From → Fitness & Health

  1. stephaniegorman permalink

    Oh, I can relate. I think reading this was good for me!

  2. NHResident57 permalink

    I believe that the interruptions are part of living in the present. Do you really want a life without interruptions? There are many people in the world for whom interruptions by loved ones are only fond memories.

    • Krista Maloney permalink

      Beautifully said. I wouldn’t trade those interruptions for the world. To me, living in the present means experiencing those interruptions without frustration related to my unrealistic expectations. I dread the day I am no longer one of the two most important people in the world to these little ones. 🙂


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