If you’re looking to improve a relationship in your life, this month’s newsletter is for you. As promised, I’m sharing one of Dr. Shefali Tsabary’s tips for conscious parenting. While her suggestions are aimed at parenting, you can also apply them to your marriage, your friendships, and even the relationship you have with yourself.
One of the most impactful shifts you can make in your life is to learn how to become present. Presence is when we’re fully in the moment, body, mind and spirit, paying attention to that which is before us. When we’re present, we’re not multi-tasking or thinking of our to-do lists, worrying about the future or upset about the past. We’re free from distractions and interruptions and we’re fully engaged with what is happening in front of us NOW. In the age of cell phones, social media and 24-hour news, it can be difficult to slow our busy minds and enter presence, but our relationships and our lives will thank us.
Presence is essential in our relationships with our children. When we don’t take time to give our kids the attention that they’re craving, they’ll find some way of getting it – even if they have to resort to negative behavior. When we’re present with our children, we’re not trying to manipulate the moment and make it into a project or a lesson, and we’re not wishing that things could be different than they are. We just accept where we are and immerse ourselves in the moment. This may mean we need to be open to entering their world and doing what they want to do, and it may mean that we learn to just sit with them and BE – expecting nothing and just being with them. The key is to let them lead. This past year I’ve focused on spending more time in presence with each of my kids. I’ve played with them, watched television with them, gone on walks with them, and I even let them skip school to have “Mom days”, where I let them choose the activities for the day and put all of my attention on them for an entire day. I know when I take the time to be fully present with them, my kids and I feel more connected to one another and our lives flow more easily.
Even a few minutes of presence a day can have a profound effect on our relationships with our children. If you’re just getting started, it might help to pick a time of day to practice this – first thing in the morning, at bedtime, or just set an alarm to remind you in the middle of the afternoon. You may have to prepare yourself before entering presence. My husband uses his drive home from work as a time to let go of his day so that when he walks in the door, he’s able to be fully present with us as a family.
In our romantic relationships, presence is the key to staying connected. We all know how it feels when our partners are distracted and unavailable to us. It can make us feel undervalued, insignificant and even unloved. Being present does the opposite. When our loved ones are fully in the moment with us, we feel loved, understood, and accepted. When is the last time you and your partner were fully present with one another? You don’t have to wait for a date night to engage with your full attention. Just set aside a little time each day and make it a ritual. My husband and I spend a few minutes talking about our days when he gets home from work. We put our digital distractions away and just pay attention to one another for a few minutes. It’s simple, and it’s something I look forward to every day.
Practicing presence can have a profound effect on us personally. Instead of focusing on the task at hand, our minds are usually somewhere else. If we’re thinking of the past, we’re probably experiencing emotions related to an event – we may feel anger or regret as we relive something that happened. If we’re thinking about the future, we may feel anxiety about all that needs to be done or worry about future events or problems. Presence grounds us. It allows our minds and our bodies to relax. We become more aware of our feelings, and we gain more power to choose our experiences.
I’m not suggesting that we should be able to be present all the time! Sometimes we’re busy and preoccupied, and to me, that’s just life. But the more moments of presence we have in our days, the richer and fuller they feel. While it may be tempting to look to others in your life and suggest that they become more present, as always, the focus should be on ourselves. How can you become more present in your life? When can you experiment with presence with your partner, your children or your friends? Be ready for those relationships to flourish. I’d love to hear about the changes that you see.
Love and light,