Physical health and wellness only scratch the surface of why people go to group fitness classes. In my experience, clients often come to unwind, de-stress and sweat out their excess energy. Sometimes they come for a moment of solitude. Sometimes they come for the social aspects of a group class. But most of all, they come to be present. To feel like they are treating each day as valuable; to engage with their lives through engaging with their bodies and minds.
Being present in your own life can be more challenging than it seems. We are constantly on overdrive, and often on autopilot. We throw a piece of fruit in our bag as we rush to drop our children off at school, we hunch over our computers and sink under the weight of our purses as we scurry to work on the subway. We cook meals, raise kids, support our families and in all of that try to find time for sleep, food and maybe the occasional half hour of Netflix.
But what if we could all live our busy lives with a bit more gumption? More focus? What if we could be more tuned in to our lives, even when we don't feel like we have a moment for ourselves? Here are a few ways to tap in, open your eyes and be more present in your own life.
Use Your Eyes
Sight is an incredible sense. Sight allows us to map our world, experience physical beauty and engage with people in a deep and meaningful way. We can also think about thoughts as a type of sight. Think about it: When you dream, you see. You use what you've experienced in reality to create the landscape of goals, imagination and fantasy. As they say, the eyes are the gateway to the soul. So yes you're eyes are open MOST of the time, but are you truly observing every bit of the world around you? Is your sight feeding your imagination? Your ambition?
The next time you're bustling around running errands take a moment to really use your eyes to find experience and stories. What are people wearing? Where do you think they are going? How many shades of green can you see on the trees that line your sidewalk? How much effort did it take someone to sew the stitching on your sweater? Was it even a person or a machine? Allowing yourself to see deeply invites your imagination to soar. When that happens you may discover things about yourself or others you never realized. Discovery leads us to a happier, exciting and goal oriented life. It allows us to hold the reigns, be present and move forward.
Etch out Down Time
It's hard I know, but setting aside time to unwind and relax is crucial for your mental and physical health. Feeling over-scheduled? Why not rethink your commute to work? If you take public transportation allow that time to be meditative. Use your commute to rest, read a book, enjoy your favorite music -- anything that gets your heart rate to slow down and your mind to feel at ease.
Taking time to relax will give you the boost you need to be present in the more active parts of life. It is also a great way to set aside time to simply think. I like to take about 10 minutes in the morning or evening to reflect and meditate. Why? Our first impulse when we wake up and go to sleep, is to look at our phones. Avoiding the need to grab your phone in the morning, and instead, choosing to lay quietly in bed thinking about the day ahead allows you to be more present. You can clearly reflect on your goals, present and future. If you're a night owl, try sitting in a chair with your hands in a prayer pose or relaxed at your sides for about 3- 10 minutes before bed. Try to focus on the sounds and tempo of your breath as you try to slow your breathing down and make your exhales and inhales fuller. Clear your mind and focus on staying grounded and aligned with your mind and face relaxed. I guarantee you'll sleep easier and feel more balanced if you continue to practice relaxation.
Do you ever go through your routine and realize you haven't really spoken to anyone? Other than a quick "thank you" at the grocery store or a "hello" at the coffee shop, we sometimes lose ourselves (and our voices) in our daily tasks. Why not try engaging in one new conversation with a stranger each day? I know i've been in circumstances where I've loved someone's outfit, or wanted to know what book they were reading or simply thought they needed cheering up but for some reason, scared myself out of saying anything. If we all went with those impulses and really connected with the people around us we, in turn, will feel more connected to our own lives and our own world.
Connection is the key to presence. It allows us to see who we are and understand others. Finding more presence in your own life is hard to pin down. But, when you do feel engaged, connected and aware, something inside you clicks. You will feel prepared for anything and in charge. Get present and open yourself up to seeing and experiencing the world around you in a wholly new way.