Updated: Sep 2
With July being Purposeful Parenting Month - as well as Sarcoma and Bladder Cancer Awareness month - I thought it would be a good time to talk about the importance and power of being present. Even with your family and busy schedule!
Each year, I pick a different word that’s going to be a theme or focus for that particular year. In 2019, I chose the word “present” to help remind me to find the things that would help me stay focused on the now. In that process, I found a lot of resources to help me with this, so I’m sharing them with you:
1. “The Elegant Universe” by Brian GreeneThere are
Have you ever felt blessed by time spent with a good friend or time in nature? It often seems like time is expanded for us in those moments. This is because we’re fully present in the moment.
Quantum physics is a fascinating science that explores the idea of a fourth dimension. There are so many pieces to it, but today we’re going to just look at the concept of time. If you want to go deeper into this, I highly recommend the book, The Elegant Universe. Brian Greene breaks down these concepts in a way that will absolutely blow your mind!
The idea is that time is a fourth dimension and that it is defined by our point of reference. So for us, time is defined by how quickly the earth rotates around its axis and how quickly it orbits around the sun. Depending on where you’re at in space, time can actually contract or expand. I use this concept often to remind me that time is malleable and while I can't space travel to expand time, I have the capacity to expand time right here on earth by how fully present I am in each moment.
As parents, it can be hard to stay present because we’re always thinking about the laundry that needs to get done, what we're serving for dinner, and which kid needs to be dropped off where. So much of the focus is on the future. Life would fall apart if we didn’t do that. I also find myself living in the past, too. I’m over-analyzing something that happened or playing out old scenarios in my mind. Both scenarios steal from our present moment.
The book 936 Pennies is based on the idea that we only have 936 weeks with our children, from the time they are born to the day they turn 18 years old. So, you put 936 pennies in a jar for each of your children and pull one out each week.
I keep our jars of pennies on the shelf in our living room so I have this visual every day to remind me of how precious this time is that I have with my children and that I need to make the most out of every moment.
I encourage you to try this or find another practice that can help disrupt the busy days and keep you aware of how quickly these weeks can pass by. Through my work with my cancer warriors, I have learned that we are not guaranteed tomorrow. The present moment is truly a gift. Don't let the past or future steal that gift from you!
3. Mindfulness & Meditation
First, I want to make a distinction between mindfulness and meditation.
Mindfulness is something we do to make ourselves aware of the present moment. I do this often when I’m feeling overwhelmed in my workday or with my kids. You can tap into mindfulness through a simply breathing exercise. Deep breathes in through your nose and out through your mouth will override your autonomic nervous system, the "fight or flight," and calm your anxiety and overwhelm.
In the day-to-day craziness, this is an easy and effective way to ground yourself. You can read more about the breathing technique in my post about lowering anxiety and fear in times of high stress. This helps me to trigger my brain to stay in the present moment.
Meditation on the other hand, is a practice of quieting the mind for a longer period of time. I try to do this every morning and it really sets up how present and calm I will be for the duration of the day.
Time really is this fourth dimension and we have the ability to expand time through the act of staying present.
How are you going to work on staying present this month?