Be Present

“This year I will be present”

The start of the new year is full of energy and resolve to get into healthier habits. The problem with new year’s resolutions is that there is a tendency to make big declarations and huge commitments that can be unrealistic. At Jade, we encourage you to channel the momentum in the air instead to recommit to yourself, and join us in an effort to be more present.

This doesn’t require setting aside an hour every day to sit alone in meditation, and it can be as simple as taking one recentering breath every day. The goal is to connect with yourself and the present moment daily.

We can all become trapped in patterns of stress, worry, and anxiety, which are made worse by projecting into the future or ruminating over the past. Resetting to the present can help us better process our emotional and physical responses to stressors, and understand ourselves a bit better.

For example, in a patient intake I may ask, "How does your anxiety manifest?" Many people do not have a clear answer. It can even seem like a trick question, begging for the response, "When I have anxiety, I feel anxious." But, what I mean is what does anxious mean to you? How does it make you feel?

I will use myself as an example. When I feel anxious, I feel a physical rush of heat. My cheeks feel flushed and red. My voice cracks easily when I speak. I become very aware of my racing heartbeat. I take shallow breaths. I ruminate on the same idea over and over. Knowing that these are the physical responses doesn’t prevent me from becoming anxious, but if gives me some perspective, so I can recognize what I am feeling.

Once I identify it, it seems to pass a bit easier because I can sit with that feeling without panicking or feeling the need to distract myself. That is just one example of how being present can be helpful. Rooting yourself to the here and now ensures that one moment doesn’t control your whole day.

So, how can one be more present this year? Start with one breath per day, and maintain that. For that breath, feel your belly fill first, then let your ribs and upper chest expand, followed by a slow exhale. Commit to one breath per day. If that starts to feel easy, start penciling in time once a week to add a second presence practice. Make a date with yourself and put it in the calendar. Start with lower time commitments of up to ten minutes. Find what works for you and increase the length of the practice if that feels good. There are many resources available from YouTube videos to apps for your phone. They can vary in length and style so you can find what works best for you. Try a guided meditation, qi gong sequences, or breathing techniques. Any way you can find presence works!