BEING IN YOUR BODY - THE KEY TO BEING PRESENT

There has been lots of emphasis in recent years about being present, and for good reason. In this state, we can detach from stress, calm our minds, are more easily able to access our true selves, and enjoy life around us.

What this essentially boils down to is being in our bodies. At any given time, most of our energy is not in our bodies. It’s in the future, or in the past, or in our minds, but not in our physical bodies. Being in our bodies allows us to be in the moment and when we are in the moment, we are not stressed about future events, pressuring ourselves with to-do lists, or repeating past conversations and scenarios in our heads. It quiets the energy around us and allows us to take in whatever activity we are engaged in.

Here are a couple of quick ways to bring your awareness back into your body. You’ll notice that when you do these exercises, you will instantly feel more connected to ourself and things will quiet down around you.

exercise 01 | place both hands over your heart, close your eyes and take three slow deep breaths. this is a brilliant exercise that takes no time at all and will quickly get you to connect to your body. though deep breathing is always great, the additional gesture of touch helps focus us into our bodies and heart space in an immediate way.

exercise 02 | in a sitting position, simply close your eyes and focus on a center point in your body, this could be the center of your hips, the center of your chest, or the center of the inside of your head. now simply call back your energy from wherever it may be outside you. imagine it coming back from the past, the future, memories, conversations, wherever and whomever it may currently be with, and feel it collecting back in this space within you. once it is all back with you, take a deep breath and open your eyes. you should feel calmer and more connected with yourself.

Here are some additional ways to gauge how present you are in your day to day life:

  • when you are walking from one place to another, say leaving work to go to your car… are you noticing the people and places around you? the temperature of the air, trees or flowers in bloom?

  • when preparing a meal - are you present to the sensations of the food you are prepping, it’s freshness or texture, the smell of the herbs, the sounds of things cooking?

  • when eating, are you tasting our food and chewing your food? one of my favorite ways to be in my body when I’m eating is to pay attention to how long I chew my food. for proper digestion it is said that you should chew each bite of food at least 30 times (or until it dissolves). it sounds a little gross but I did this exercise for about a week and was surprised by how much it showed me about my eating patterns. give it a try for just one meal and you’ll see what I mean…

  • when you are showering, are you taking in the temperature of the water? noticing how it feels on your body? this is a great time to enjoy the moment and refresh yourself. water is incredibly healing and taking time to absorb this ritual can be a luxurious experience.

  • driving is another time when we often leave our bodies. are you present to your drive? notice whether you feel relaxed or tense? are you seeing the things you are driving past? again, this is another time when you can’t really do anything else and since most of us drive alone, it can serve as a great space to take some time for yourself, enjoy the ride and be present to your moment.

A WHOLE-ISTIC APPROACH

It has been said that a holistic approach to our lives is needed to reach a space of balance. But what does that look like in a practical way? For me, it is comprised of the basic pillars that make up my daily experience: physical health, emotional health, food, and my space (home). These are the ways in which I can personally affect my everyday experience, and always determines how I show up in the world. Whether that’s in my personal relationships, my work, or to the stranger in the grocery store. When these aspects have been tended to in a nurturing way, I am more grounded, less agitated, and generally enjoy my own company more. Though four areas every day may seem like a lot, I usually go easy on myself and do what I can on any given day.

PHYSICAL HEALTH | Though I love a long, drawn-out hike on the weekend, during the week, physical health is usually my biggest challenge (bless those of you who wake up at 5am and make it to the gym, this will never be my reality). That being said, I can always find time for a short Pilates routine, a few yoga poses, or if nothing else, a brief series of stretches (sometimes in the kitchen!), which seems to do the trick.

EMOTIONAL HEALTH | This is a big one and one that most of us have been taught not to prioritize. I do what I can every morning to start my day in a balanced state. The quickest way for me to do this is with some deep breathing in the morning, even spending 5 minutes before I get out of bed, taking deep breaths to connect and check in, will start me off on the right foot. The next part of this is honoring what comes up for me during the day, if I get irritated or frustrated, I will process through those emotions either by myself or with a friend and then I can let it go and move on. Of course, there are days when emotions run high for one reason or another. The important thing here is to allow them to move through as opposed to suppress, bury or numb them. Most days, simply sharing them with someone you trust will defuse their intensity and if you can get to a place where you can laugh about it, that’s even better.

FOOD | I’ll be doing a post in the future on intuitive eating which is what I practice on a daily basis. This basically means paying attention to how foods make me feel, listening to my body and what it needs from me on any given day and generally making choices that feel good and satisfying. I will not punish myself, I will not restrict myself, and I don’t involve guilt or judgments like “being good” or “being bad” to enter into the equation. Eating mostly whole, unprocessed foods, always leaves me feeling more energized and less driven by cravings throughout the day.

SPACE | My home and personal space is a huge contributor to feeling a sense of balance and ease in my everyday life. A space that is uncluttered, functional, and serene does wonders to ground me regardless of what else is happening in my world. Creating a nurturing environment, whatever that looks like for you can be a rewarding way to care for ourselves.

Think about these four pillars in your own life. What small things can you do on a daily basis to tend to them in order to nurture yourself in a more “whole-listic” way.