Being present in the here and now is becoming increasingly difficult. I know that the more I have to do and therefore the more overwhelmed I feel, the more ‘scattered’ I am. A good example is I have just put a mug with milk in the microwave to heat for coffee. I then put milk in another mug and went to put it in the microwave and found the previous one waiting for me. This tells me that currently, holding a thought and really focusing on each task is difficult. Whilst writing this article, my phone is beeping and pinging with noises which distract me from the task at hand. I will switch it off!
Stress, boredom and preoccupation can cause us to have scattered thoughts and become unfocussed, particularly on a busy day. If you find yourself being unfocussed a lot of the time, perhaps it is timely to practice ‘being present.’ This will help ground you in the here and now and reset your thoughts to the task in hand.
What to do?
To practice being present and focused, you can use your five senses – they come free with your body. Examples are:
• Really tasting and smelling your morning tea or coffee.
• Feeling the texture of your clothing – is it soft or scratchy?
• Noting the sounds around you, like your neighbour’s voices, birdsong or the wind in the trees.
• Noticing the hue of the colour of the sky or in your loved one’s eyes.
• Taking a moment to tune into your surroundings takes you away from what is in your head and helps you to refocus.
Technology – blessing or curse?
As a young parent, you are called to do myriad tasks all day every day. What I have observed with the young parents around me, is that whilst they are with their children, they will very often be looking at their mobile phone. However, when we are out socially, it is deemed rude to be looking at a phone screen whilst in company. Our children can’t tell us to put our phones away when they are babies, and so they receive only a portion of their parent’s attention. A YouTube video or Instagram post takes the focus away from the child and into the ether. This appears to be the norm, and so what are we modelling to our children?
What to do?
• Allot family time with the phone turned off.
• When you are at home switch the sound off and place phone face down so that you are not constantly distracted by it.
• Choose to be present with children and leave the phone in your pocket or in your bag.
• Add up the number of hours per day you spend looking at screens. How about reducing this, if possible?
Have a think about what quality of attention you are giving when you are with your partner, family and friends. If you are irritated by another’s device habits when they are with you, ask for some quality time with the device turned off. Let’s all be mindful of where we place our attention. Our attention and time are finite and valuable resources.