Power of Presence
It’s easy to get caught up in your mind, its a very powerful tool and has a unique way of sending us into some really dark spaces. The ability to be in a present state of mind is an incredible valuable tool to an athlete and in reality anything you are doing seriously from business to life. Being present provides focus, clarity, concentration, awareness to ones body and a connection to yourself and the moment you are in.
This form of mindfulness relates to a theory of being in the “zone” or in a state of “flow” both in which refer to a state of consciousness in which a person is completely absorbed in his or her actions and experiences a unity of the mind and body.* Bringing yourself into this state means that your whole being is involved in what you are doing and you are able do the following:
Appropriately and clearly set your goals
Concentrate and focus
Judge your own progress and receive instant personal feedback on your performance
Make quick adjustments and be ok with those adjustments in real time
Feeling more in control over the situation and the outcome
Now, not all of these states are necessary for being in the zone and not all of them will come from being in the zone but it does give you the ability to reach in and grab any of them when needed. Most importantly one of the most amazing benefits to being present is that you don’t miss out on the beauty and joy that life often brings when we slow down and pay attention.
It is often said that sports are 90% mental and 10% physical, and it can be unbelievably true, yet despite this we spend 90% of our time working on our physical side vs our mental. To be “great” in sport and business we cannot ignore the mental side of things; as an athlete I didn’t really grow, learn, and improve physically until I began to master and improve on the mindset side of not only the sport but myself. Improving on the mental side, especially being present in the moment, of things is hard it takes patience, time, and a desire to chose to improve it.
Stop worrying about tomorrow
In a world where we try to do so many things our brains are often flooded with lists, thoughts, actions, and “things” that we need to do and get done. Constantly worrying about the appointment we still need to get scheduled or the fact that we have a race in many weeks from now. We worry about the time it will take us, the money it may take, the pain or exhaustion we may feel, and all the little things that have yet to come to pass and may never come to pass at that. It consumes us and stops us from accepting what we have going on right at that moment.
But here’s the thing.. that will all happen tomorrow or maybe it is going to happen many days, weeks or even months from now so why worry about it today? Why not just focus on what you are doing that day and in that minute? You cannot fully enjoy the day you are in if you are worrying about tomorrow, worry has never accomplished anything productive so it is better to redirect your energy towards something more productive than sitting around and worrying about the day.
Focus on one thing at a time
We all have a to-do list and it often gets really long; so long in fact that it seems overwhelming. If you can focus on one thing at a time it helps to keep you present. This is especially key in racing (I go back to that often because while a lot of what we talk about here can be used for a lot of things it is a “triathlon” geared blog), the more you can focus on one thing while in the middle of the race the easier it is to keep the demons at bay.
It seems silly to practice staying present but no different than practicing our physical strength the more we rehearse staying present the easier it becomes to pull on it when we need it. The age old saying “Practice makes Perfect” may be cliche but it is so true. Practice first starts with acknowledgement and awareness of the demons that affect you once you acknowledge and become aware of the demons it is easier to make a change and figure out what you can do to change it.
Trust in Life
Trust doesn’t come easy to a lot of people. Mostly because it does seem like we get let down a lot. Life has a way of unfolding the way that it is supposed to and when we can give into that, let life flow, and not resist everything little thing that happens to us it is amazing how you can learn to accept the present moment.
Choosing to live in the moment and be present in the moment is a choice. It is 100% up to you whether or not you you learn to do so, it takes patience, energy and dedication to the changes.
*Mihaly Csikszentimihalyi (1990) Finding Flow