OK, you’ve tried some form of meditation or mindfulness and it was boring and annoying and you just wanted it to end? Or is trying to ‘empty your mind’ just impossible? The good news is that you don’t have to empty your mind, or be zen, or even think pure thoughts. You can think about doughnuts if you want. What is important is that you are able to observe your thoughts. So instead of thinking about doughnuts, it's more like you're noticing (maybe with some curiousity) that you're thinking about doughnuts. And if you don’t, it really doesn’t matter - it's more about the journey - for now just stick with listening to audio or noticing what's going on in your body. Let go of any expectations and gift yourself this opportunity to just sit and let whatever unfold.
No time? You’ve probably heard the old adage “If you don’t have time for 20 minutes meditation each day, then you probably need 2 hours.” The bad news (in my experience) is that this is completely true. Having struggled a consistent mindfulness practice myself I get it... but, but when I do spend even 10 minutes just getting present (in any way), the results are incredibly powerful - I am motivated, productive, creative, happier, less pissed off and generally nicer to be around. And all it takes is 10 minutes a day. Isn't that worth a try?
No quiet place? OK, I get it, you can’t even go to the toilet in your house without a kid or a dog trailing after you? Or teens playing loud music? I eventually realised if I waited for the perfect moment, it invariably never happened. So now, I just let go of all those expectations and just get on with it regardless of the noise, the interruptions and the stresses of the day. If I am interrupted, I just smile sweetly (wallowing in my woke zenness), respond as needed and let myself slip back to Presence (it wasn’t always like that).
Don’t like the sound of my voice in your audio recording? That’s totally cool, there are countless mindfulness apps online, so listen to a few till you find something where the words and the voice resonate with you. When you find some you love, save them on your phone to grab whenever.
Not sure when is the best time? Well, really that is up to you. First thing in the morning can set you up for the day, last thing at night could mean a deep and lovely sleep. Or maybe you just have to grab it where you can. But scheduling it into your calendar or attaching it to another daily habit (like just before or after brushing your teeth) might help ensure it happens.
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I want to keep today’s hack experiential, rather than theoretical.
But I also want to briefly touch on a (hugely oversimplified) neuroscientific aspect of embodiment that makes it such a powerful Presencing Tool. Presence is simply living consciously in this moment, grateful and aware of everything it has to offer. Embodiment occurs when you direct your attention inwards to your body. It could be as simple as noticing an uncomfortable sensation somewhere or focusing on your breathing like we did in Hack #1.
There are none today as this hack is about being, not thinking (ok, also, if I was to even begin to cross-reference the studies on the benefits of mindfulness properly, I would be here for 3 years and nobody would hear from me again).
If you follow me and my hacks, Presence is definitely something we’ll be touching on time and again. But if you can’t wait to find out more, there are countless studies on the effect of meditation and mindfulness on health and should easily be found by a google search. You can also read and research around neuroscience, embodiment and presencing.