GUEST POST: The Art of Presence

Do you have what it takes to be fully present?

Shola’s Note: Hey Solutionists! One of the new things that I’m doing here on The Positivity Solution is to feature bloggers who you might not have heard of yet, and who are focused on making this world a more positive place for all of us. On this month’s Solutionist Spotlight (I seriously just made that up, and I’m going to stick with it!) I have the honor of presenting the fabulous Andrea Herbert, the founder of The Courtesy Blueprint. Enjoy!

It all started off innocently enough.

I was feeling a little tight and sore after a hard workout, and I decided to get a massage.

Who knew that the workout was going to be the easy part of my day, and that the real challenge was going to be waiting for me inside the spa?

My good friend, who is well versed in so many things around Los Angeles, says, “I know this great spa, let’s meet in Korea town.”

Prior to all my “living in the present” work (which was helped enormously by reading Shola’s article on the topic), I would have asked 100 questions about the spa we were going to, what is their Yelp rating, what is their health department rating, etc., but my work has helped me live in each day and every moment.

Little did I know that I was about to put my work to the test.

What Do You Mean We Are All Naked?

All day I had been anticipating my massage. I could feel all the anxiety leaving my body just by thinking about having a professional masseuse rub all of my tensions away.

And then that all changed once I arrived at the Korean Spa.

For those of you who are unaware of the Korean Spa phenomenon, I would like to provide a short peek into this time honored tradition. Korean spas offer full service day spa experiences that are inexpensive, but very effective.

Traditionally the spa areas are gender specific, and on the women’s side, all the providers work in their underwear.

Additionally, there is a strict no swimsuit policy. Which means, yes, the spa is 100% nude!

This is a little fact my dear friend left out when scheduling us for massages.

Now the insecure, “body conscious” me wanted to spin on my heel and high tail it out the front door. But the new (and improved) Brené Brown renovated me, kept calm and remembered that I need to be present in each moment.

Even the uncomfortable ones.

The Challenge of Presence

I think being present is more challenging now than ever before.

We are constantly inundated with all kinds of information—from text messages and emails to information crawls on the news and apps that allow us to interact with our shows on television. We get very few opportunities to just be in a single moment, being completely present without distraction.

I read a great article about Mindfulness in the Harvard Business Review and in it the author discusses how being actively present or mindful, will make us more charismatic, perform better and manage life’s chaos.

We are so wired to multitask these days that, at least for me, this “being present” stuff seemed counter-intuitive. How could I be more productive if I’m only focused on one thing at a time?

I’m sure you all have been here–if not, this is what it looks like for me: I’m on the phone with my mother, answering emails for work, and sending a text to friends.

Can you guess what ends up happening?

I miss what my mother was sharing, I forget to add an important bit of information in the email, and I respond to the wrong text.

The reality is I can’t do more than one thing. If you think about it, I mean really think about it, you can really only be focused on a single thing at a time. But because we are trying to do so much, we actually exhaust ourselves mentally and miss out on really great moments.

Here are some tips to keep you from missing any more of those moments.

Four Tips to Help You Stay Present

1. Practice Awareness
Make note of the situations where you disengage. Is it when you are in mindless activities? Is it when you argue with your partner? Is it when your kids are driving you crazy? Whatever it might be, take stock of those moments so you become aware and can snap yourself out of it and re-engage.

2. Take a Deep Breath
The chaos of life can be overwhelming. But when we break through the noise and get a moment of peace, we restart our minds. A great way to get a quick restart is by taking a break, closing our eyes and taking a deep breath. If you have more time, I would recommend practicing meditation. Meditation is the ultimate expression of clearing your mind of everything that isn’t now.

3. Embrace It All
Every moment, even the “bad” ones deserve your attention. When we consistently disengage from the bad stuff, not only is that not positive at all, it makes it even harder to be present with the good stuff. Every situation has its purpose for your life, find the meaning and embrace it.

4. Let it Go
Let it go? But wait, didn’t I just say to embrace it all? Yes, you embrace it, learn the lesson and let the rest of it go. When we hang on to things we are living in the past. Remember the goal is to live in the moment.

Yes, We Were All Naked

I had the most amazing experience at this spa.

Yes, we were all naked and it was one of the most freeing experiences I have ever had. I wasn’t spending my time thinking about what my body looked like or what the other ladies were thinking about my body.

I spent my time clearing my mind and just being.

To me, that is the art of presence.

About Andrea

Andrea is a service excellence professional who has a passion for bringing civility, respect and manners back to our society. She writes the Courtesy Blueprint, a weekly blog dedicated to sharing thoughts and opinions on how we can create more caring communities and bring courtesy back to our culture.

Shola

Shola

Founder of The Positivity Solution
Author, keynote speaker, and kindness extremist who is committed to changing the world by helping as many people as possible to live and work with more positivity.
Shola
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Comments

  1. Andrea! Thanks so much for an awesome guest post, my friend! Practicing the art of presence is one of the hardest (and most necessary) things that I work on each day. I’ve mastered tips 2 & 3, but tips 1 & 4 are a daily work in progress for me–but like I always say, if this stuff were easy, everyone would be doing it, right?

    Excellent stuff Andrea, and I’m glad that you had the guts to stay at the spa!

  2. Wow, that is convicting! I am constantly pulled in 12 different directions. I cannot recall the last time I was actually ‘in the moment.’ I needed this today.

    When I am at work, my mind races about my kids. When I am with my kids, my mind is constantly questioning what I did at work, or thinking about the youth I work with. When I am with my husband on a very rare date, we end up discussing work, kids, and everything else.

    Focus on the moment. This will be my goal. I can already tell it will be challenging, as I am fighting the normally intrusive thoughts right now! (Did I pay that bill? When will I run those errands?)

    Focus. Time to be more aware of NOW and make everything else wait its turn!

    Thank you so much, Andrea!

  3. I think “presence” is a thing we all struggle with. I am constantly working on 1-4 and have mastered none yet.
    I identify so well with you, Kathy. Right now as I write this comment, I’m checking a text. Arrgh!
    Thank you so much Shola for this amazing opportunity! Oh and I love “Solutionist Spotlight.”

  4. I’ve been to the spa in Korea town, getting rubbed down and shaken about by a rough Korean masseuse is exquisite! – it isn’t exposing my naked body that is uncomfortable – it is exposing my naked personality that is difficult for me, many people I meet think I’m odd because I don’t adhere to societal norms.

    All of the above statements are very good advice – I struggle with the “now” because it is mostly the future I worry about. The past I can’t change – I’ve learned to let it go (most of the time – it rears its ugly head once in awhile). I have had to split my focus many times, it is where I made the most mistakes. I learned, employers haven’t. The problem is looking for a job in a support role, all ask for a multi-tasker, how do you overcome that one? As for the meditation part – I’ve never been very good at emptying my mind – I have a routine of sitting on my porch in the morning enjoying the sun but, the thoughts come in and out and I can’t seem to get rid of them completely (I don’t focus on any one thought however). I know there is a reason I experience certain things or meet certain people but sometimes the reason doesn’t come and I wonder why. Maybe I’m not looking closely enough, maybe I’m not engaged enough, maybe, maybe, maybe. I read a blog today that says you must be passionate about everything you do (including mundane tasks like brushing your teeth). Maybe…that is where I need to start. Just brush my teeth and not think about what socks to put on until it is time to do it, don’t think about what kind of coffee I’ll get until it is time to do it etc. (break it down to its simplest form and the rest will take care of itself)?

    Thanks Andrea for you insightful post and thank you Shola for bringing it to us.
    Kat

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