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Refinding Presence

A few weeks ago, I lost my balance. I was doing extra work in the local shop to cover a colleague’s holiday, and I didn’t cut back enough on my business work. In order to keep on top of the all the work I felt I had to do, I let go of some of my really important self-care. I just about kept up my T’ai chi and morning meditation, but I only managed my yoga twice in two weeks and only managed about one walk in that time period. All I seemed able to do was rest enough to be able to the next bit of work and then rest again to get over it. Unfortunately, when the extra work in the shop finished, I was so tired that I could then only manage my business work in the same manner.

Looking back, I’ve realised that in that time I completely lost my ability to connect with the present moment. I was constantly feeling the pressure of the next thing I had to do with the very little energy I had. I knew I needed to rest a lot and the only way I seemed to be able to do that was through distraction, otherwise my thoughts kept me away from restfulness. I went through a trashy novel every couple of days and am extremely grateful for the local library, Nora Roberts and Mary Balogh!

When I was doing my Tai chi, my mind was nearly always on other things and my meditation practise was all about not getting irritated when I brought myself back to focus after another of those constant distractions. I was aware I’d lost my presence and I was doing what I could to reconnect but with very little success.

Coming back to Spain offered a wonderful opportunity to start afresh. After the disaster of the previous few weeks I knew I had to prioritise my self-help routines above all else. The results of having let them go were such a clear indicator of how they support my well-being it was a very strong motivator.

Having happened upon a really helpful Erkhart Tolle video on Facebook I  also decided to set myself an intention of regularly checking in with the present moment. My aim was to take an observers perspective on my breathing and the information from my other sense (what can I see, hear, feel, smell, taste?), and where possible take a look at my thoughts and feelings in the moment too, but as an observer without getting caught up in them.

The importance of relaxation and natures helping hand.

One of the things I discovered is that although being present will add to relaxation, it’s almost impossible to connect to the present moment for more than a fraction of a second if your sympathetic nervous system is in a high arousal state. The first day I tried, I did find a few moments to practise this exercise, but never quite made it through to the end.

My first success though was when I went for a walk. Usually I can immediately connect with the present moment when I’m out in nature, but I had to really work at it this time. In fact, I nearly forgot to, until my attention was attracted by the sound of the Bee-eaters. Bee-eaters visit this area twice a year on their migratory paths, so it’s always exciting to hear them (you always hear them before you see them!). I looked up and it was like they were welcoming me back with a really low flyby! Suddenly I was in the present moment connecting with the beauty of nature. As I continued my walk, I reminded myself to really look around me, to listen to the sounds of nature and smell the smell of the mountains after rain. I started to relax. I kept drifting back into my thoughts again, but was able to bring my attention back to my environment over and over again.

The next day I found it a little easier to practise my connection to the present moment exercise and after 3 days of daily walks, yesterday I found myself fully caught up in the moment watching small wispy clouds changing shape and dissolving for several minutes without getting distracted by my thoughts.

What helps you reconnect to the present moment?

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2 Responses to Refinding Presence

  1. Celine October 15, 2017 at 12:58 pm #

    Hello there ! what helps me refinding presence at the moment is _

    this is a version of your tips, for lower energy days.

    walking barefoot for a few steps, outside of the house or relaxing on my back taking the sunlight in the garden, with my clothes on, but with my foot-skin in contact with the ground
    _
    after I did one or the other, I love relaxing in the bathtub but currently I do not bathe, I just soak my feet in a warm water bucket, to warm them up, while I am resting in a reclined position in the bathtub. It makes me feel relaxed and my heart rate monitor informs me that my relaxation is deeper in that setting than when I just chill in bed.

    I also enjoy taking a “warm air bath” in front of my electric heater, I just sit on the ground, and uncover the end of my back and bums 🙂 it feels really good !

    I also enjoy cropping a few weeds and get my hands dirty. I am doing it in a position that stretches my back and keep my heart rate low. _

    Everything that brings me back to my senses is helpful to refind presence.
    combing my hair can do just that !
    self massage is also very helpful at the moment.

    I massage my scalp / my hands / my neck and shoulders / … / my ears !
    I do it very slowly, and breathe !

    this makes a really good musical massage I love it. if you want to try, I am sure you could find ear massage in do-in or chigong selfmassage session on the web.
    I love also giving myself self hugs,
    and breathe !

    I also use two tennis balls in a long sock, for back massage,
    and a gentle very soft brush and a harder one for easy and conforting/invogorating feet
    massage.

    Cheers !

    • ME/CFS Self-Help Guru
      ME/CFS Self-Help Guru October 15, 2017 at 2:15 pm #

      Thank you Celine, these are wonderful ideas!

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