Mindful Trees

Three Easy Ways to Practice Being Present

Being present is a mindful approach to contemplation, a way for us to be present with this moment. And this one. And now this one. Like a gentle wind drifting in off the tide, within the blink of an eye, the day slips away from you, lost to memory. An ebb of your self. Gone. It happens to all of us. On our afternoon commute, we might ruminate on the day and think, “Where did the time go?” And by that time, we’re too tired or distracted to attempt any kind of constructive stillness that could lead us toward our larger purposes in life.

If this habit of distraction in being present persists within us, the chasm between doing what needs to be done to further our purposes in life versus doing what is done because we must tend to the myriad responsibilities of the day widens in scope. Ultimately, we may end of feeling “burned out.” It makes a difference how you focus on being present to yourself and the world, because the more you are present within, the more able you will be to move toward your true self. Plus, doing what needs to be done begins in the present moment. It’s always here.


“The question is not what you look at, but what you see.”

Thoreau

If we are not being present in our life on a moment by moment basis, then alternate meanings and distracted thoughts will impose themselves upon us. Clearing time everyday to attend to our inner space is a healthy act that can quiet the din of the world and reconnect us with our true self; being present is an act of being in the Now. You can practice these techniques no matter your spiritual beliefs. Approach them with humility and they will reward you.

Thus, I present you with three exercises you can do RIGHT NOW to move yourself into a more purposeful and centered state of being present to yourself and to the flow of life within you.

A Gentle Disclaimer

Please note that my own contemplative and mindful studies are always in their infancy. I am always working to improve myself, my way of thinking, and my way of being in touch with the divine present. What is laid out in this article is what I’ve learned up to this point. I am not infallible. I hope you find something that you can use, and will use to your spiritual and mindful advantage. Of course, I mean you no harm and wish you well on your journey.

PURPOSEFUL CONTEMPLATION: OBSERVE THE FLOW

Tree painting

Sit comfortably where you are. Set a timer for ten minutes. Most phones come with a timer. If you don’t have one handy, use your inner sense of time, though a quiet timer works quite well. Take a deep breath. If it helps you to count in — one, two, three, four, and release — please do so. Settle your hands either in your lap or palms outward. Breathe and let each breath be a relaxing action that calms you and fills you with the warmth of peace.

As you breathe, observe the flow that is your thoughts. If our thoughts determine our lives, observe how your life is being determined by this flow of awareness. Let the thoughts ebb and flow. Don’t hold onto them. Don’t push them away. Just let them go where they will. The more you practice, the better able you will be to let yourself into this flow and be one with this flow. In doing so, you’ll find a great sense of inner peace and stability.

CENTERING PRAYER: USING YOUR LOVING WORD (OR MANTRA)

I speak this “being present” excercise from a Christian perspective. If you are not Christian, use whatever mantra brings you closer to the Flow within you. And please don’t let the word “prayer” intimidate you. If you are Christian, please allow the word prayer to expand to the idea that, if prayer is communion and communication and reception with God, then the centering prayer becomes a way to channel that communion.


“Don’t judge centering prayer on the basis of how many thoughts come or how much peace you enjoy. The only way to judge this prayer is by its long-range fruits: whether in daily life you enjoy greater peace, humility and charity. Having come to deep interior silence, you begin to relate to others beyond the superficial aspects of social status, race, nationality, religion, and personal characteristics.” 

Thomas Keating

It is a simple intentional prayer that brings you into yourself and “centers” the flow. One word that I recommend is “Maranatha,” which is Aramaic for “Come, Lord.” You can also use any other simple meditative word that brings you closer to the Divine, such as: “Father,” “Jesus,” Lord, Jesus Chriset,” etc. Moreover, you could even use this exercise to go into the Jesus Prayer, though shorter “arrows” (as in short words) work well to begin with.

However, center yourself on whatever personal spiritual word that you’d like to use. Repeat the word silently over and over. No matter what thoughts come to your mind, let them go and bring your centering word back to your awareness. Don’t worry about thoughts taking over. Just observe and keep your attention on the repetition of the word. This centering prayer, in pulling you into the core of your own connection with the Divine, opens a pure space of presence.

PURPOSEFUL RELAXATION: BREATHING AND LETTING GO

This exercise came to me via the works of Israel Regardie and I’ve found myself returning to it throughout the years. It’s benefit lies in how it generates rest and the ability to relax and feel true psychosomatic rejuvenation. All magick theory aside, I highly recommend his work on relaxation.

For this exercise, lie down on the floor or hard surface. In doing this, you’ll force your body to give in to the hardness of the floor as opposed to the surface conforming to your body. Relax your muscles and feel yourself sink to a blessed limpness. If it helps, imagine yourself sinking or melting into the floor, limb by limb. Or, focus on a warmth that spreads from your head, over your face, and down your entire body. And breathe — one, two, three, four. Deep breaths in (count four) and deep breaths out (count four). Let yourself focus on how you are releasing tension from your body.

You are becoming one with your body and entering yourself into a state of physical relaxation. Become breath and the flow of that breath. Be present to the importance of letting go of tension.

What breathing or contemplation exercises do you regularly practice? Is there a certain app or book that you would recommend? I’m compiling a list of resources, but am always interesting in what my readers are interested in. As for these methods, use what works for you. Being present is not an academic exercise, not something that can be analytically located. It must be lived. It begins in love and acceptance. Being present is an act of humility and release. Working with these techniques will produce a profound peace in your life.

In the End… For Now…

Mindfulness and Prayer

Do what needs to be done, dear reader. And carry on through the inner darkness.

Let us know if this helps!

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