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being present in the moment

One of the many joys of working with a range of diverse clients is the intellectual challenge of finding the right approach, question or tool for them.

I need to balance my own favourites with a list of things: their preferences, styles, maturity of thought on their goals, their background or prior experiences and where’s their mind’s focus right now.

For example, if a client is arriving after a hectic journey home or to the meeting place, the first part of the session is spent bringing their heart and breathing rates down and helping them detach from whatever came before the session and their journey to it. It’s about being present.

What do I mean with that phrase? My use of the phrase is in creating a mental and physical state where the mind and body are calmed, in a safe place and the person is able to tune into their own thoughts, feelings and senses.

I want to share two simple “do anywhere” approaches I use and share a few recommendations of other mechanisms you might like to try. When you’re about to embark on something that requires you to switch off internal and external “chatter”, these can really help you achieve a focus and a clear mind.

1) Acknowledge

Take a few seconds to consider how your body is feeling. Work from top to toe (or vice versa, if you prefer), how does that joint or muscle feel and can you do anything to improve it? For example, pop on a pair of socks if your feet are cold or a soft cushion behind a sore back. Next consider your mind, how’s it feel and what can you do to help it? Write down that “don’t forget” item, let go of an unsupportive thought or hang up on that annoying soundtrack.

2) Breathe

In Pilates, we use a special technique to ensure we engage our cores (the lower abdomen, side and back muscles plus the pelvic floor and diaphragm). It also delivers fresh air to the largest depths of our lungs and pushes stale air out.

Sit or stand tall, release any shoulder and neck tension. Take a deep breath in through the nose and try to expand your ribs sideways to “touch” your elbows, counting in for 4 as you do. Breathe out the mouth slowly for 4. Repeat for about 60-90 seconds.

You may find another number works for your breathing pace, use that. You might also find closing your eyes more soothing. Lastly, you should start to develop a sense of lightness, energy and feel ready to being your action.

3 apps I really like for being present are Headspace, GPS for the Soul and Gratitude Journal.

Headspace introduces you to simple meditation practices, whilst GPS for the Soul takes an initial “stress measurement” using the device’s camera and then recommends a selection of short guides (pictorial slide decks) on a variety of the themes and topics. Gratitude Journal – well, does what the title says – it allows you to record what joys you’ve experienced. (My favourite one yesterday was a conversation with a girlfriend over stripy paper straws served in our drinks, which took us back to childhood holiday fun!)

How do you find being present? What’s your recommended way of achieving it?

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