Been inspired to write about presence lately as my son (and husband) reminds me when I am not daily. Its a challenge to attain, but a worthwhile endeavor as it benefits both the giver and receiver. Presence let's us thrive. Do you struggle with presence too? Let me know what you think!. #topnotchwellness
“If you love someone, the greatest gift you can give them is your presence" ― Thich Nhat Hanh
There are hundreds of books on how to optimize the relationship with your child and foster their development. Even more on healthy relationships and sustaining long lasting love. But there is one fundamental element to being with your child, life partner, family, and friends that cannot be read - it must be practiced. It is called presence And it's harder than it seems.
Presence occurs when we are grounded in the moment. To be present, we need to detach from our to-do's, expectations, judgements, and thoughts of the future or past. Sharing presence is a magical thing felt by both parties. It's essential for children to experience as they grow and in reality is vital for us all. Beneath our many layers we adults are in need of presence too. We need to be understood and seen. To be taken in without exception. All relationships thrive from presence.
In an age of instant information, constant feedback, and the "hit" of social stimuli our moment to moment awareness is constantly pulled from the present moment. Tack on a career that commands your attention it's easy to feel attention fatigue. This is a part of normal life -- lets take a moment to acknowledge this with self-compassion. But there are some straightforward avenues to pursue and practice presence.
Put the phone away (or develop family tech etiquette). Smartphones are an integral part of our life. They have brought so much convenience and prosperity, but heavy use of smartphones is linked to greater risk for anxiety, depression, and loneliness. Demonstrate your own mindfulness by putting down your phone during meals or whenever someone needs your attention, especially a child. Come up with family rules on acceptable use of technology and screens (great ideas here).
Practice Gratitude. Gratitude practices help us to be in the present moment, seeing what there is to be grateful for and focusing on that, rather than on what’s missing or still left to accomplish. Find ways to ritualize gratitude to embed this important habit in your life.
Use your five senses. Coming to your senses is a grounding exercise. Deter from any thoughts or anxieties. Stop, breathe, and take a moment to notice what's happening in this moment. What do you see/hear/feel/taste/smell? Ask your child to join you in this practice of mindfulness.
Listen with your eyes — When someone asks you a question, look at them and listen to their words. If you are truly too busy to stop and look at them, ask them to wait until you can fully listen. This is a constant struggle for me (and one that my husband constantly remind me of) and it can truly pay off. We all - especially children - want to be heard. Receiving full and undivided attention is to be loved.
Savor Mealtime. Eating together can be a mindful moment, even if it's just snack time. It has other benefits, too. Studies show that children whose families regularly eat dinner together benefit in many ways, from improved eating habits to better physical and mental health. Eating together regularly contributes to sense of belonging, of being safe and grounded.
Cultivating loving presence plays a key factor in providing emotional support to another, which is protective for health. As we all know health is our greatest gift. So take a moment today. With your child, with your loved one, your friend. Take a moment and be there. Sit in awareness rather than moving onto your desired destination or task. Listen with your eyes. Without judgment or expectation.
As Dr. Rick Hanson mentions in his book Just One Thing, practice is key. It's about rewiring our brains for the good. A fascinating topic worthy of a post itself that I have written about before. For me, it's often a rhythm of becoming conscious of my unconsciousness and finally bringing my attention back to that moment, offering the gift of my presence (more on this in a future post). Our minds will often be distracted, but we can always return to the moment. Its challenging and uncomfortable, but achieving this mindful state of presence is a worthy endeavor as it positively impacts the well-being of its giver and receiver. Presence lets us thrive.
Hello and welcome! My name is Andrea Notch Mayzeles. I am a Certified Health Education Specialist, Mom, and Master of Public Health dedicated to the path of well-being. As a wellness professional I am committed to continued learning and am here to share research, recipes and musings on health, psychology, personal development, and parenting. I hope you enjoy!