What is being Present?

With personal leadership coach-author-speaker John Kuypers

Being Present is what we experience when we are completely at peace with this very moment. It is a life journey where we constantly grow our inner peace.

Our feelings are calm. Our reflexes are fast. Our mind is clear. We are decisive. We know what we want. We know what’s right for us. We perform our best – public speaking, sports, music, relating to people. Our confidence is deep. We know and accept that we’re not perfect. This lets us be real.  We accept we have faults and we own them.   Be sure to read the ten benefits of being present when you scroll down this page.

Being present is a time frame you choose to focus on.

There are only three possible time frames – past, present and future. Once you become aware of the thoughts you are having and the content of those thoughts, you will notice which timeframe you are in at any given time. You will begin to notice how often your thoughts and feelings are focused on the past or the future. These thoughts are riddled with judgments, comparing the past or future to your present situation. Many people spend less than 1% of their time being fully present. The rest of the time, we drift in and out as our attention wanders. Your mind may even seem to be out of your own control.

Our memory is strong when we are in the present.

Do you recall times that are very clear in your memory? All of you was in the “here and now” in those moments – in a first love, on a great vacation, with a trusted friend. These were moments when you felt safe. We are present more often when we learn to feel safe even in difficult, stressful, anxious situations – when people criticize us, when we make mistakes, when we are in a financial jam or in a love life crisis. Otherwise, outside circumstances will dictate whether we are able to be present…or not.  We need to learn to control our inner experience.

Being present happens in an instant.

So does not being present. An upsetting thoughts triggers emotions based on the past hurts or future fears. It happens in an instant and is highly dependent on how good your boundaries are. Both result in conflict and unhappiness rooted in past and future-based thoughts and feelings. This is the real You that you want to keep hidden.

The path to being more real in the present is to stop comparing.

We compare the present with what “should” be happening. The result of this is judgments. We judge situations, other people and ourselves. Judgments make it hard to be present. Our minds become pre-occupied with thoughts that analyze the past or role-play the future. We live in the past to lick our wounds or we live in the future because we don’t trust ourselves that we’ll be okay in the future.

Being present means learning to live as if we have nothing to hide, nothing to prove and nothing to lose.

This is how our mind, body, heart and soul become unified in that one moment. Time slows down. We are connecting with God – the eternal life force. In fact, the definition of eternity is the present moment. It has never NOT been the present moment – the only time that is real. This is merely a logical fact.  The three nothings are known as The Jesus Attitude.

Our ability to be present depends on having good boundaries.

Boundaries are the reason for the two hands in the Present Living & Learning logo. If we have weak boundaries, we will either lash out at others or we will be passive and let others run over us. When we are true to ourselves, our focus is on self-control and self-responsibility.  We don’t try to control others, nor do we let others control us. This requires us to let go of our biased views of the outcomes we want.  We need to “first get neutral about outcomes and then we will see clearly what to do.” This is known as the first rule of inner peace.

Being present begins with NOTICING when we are trying to alter the present moment. To be present, we must first accept it. This is known as the Paradoxical Theory of Change.

We become aware that we use “judgments” to try to change others and our self. With awareness, we notice that this frequently gets us the opposite of what we want. People dig in, get angry and work hard to STOP us from getting what we want.  These setbacks create a ‘victim’ mindset. Being present requires learning to stop being a victim. We therefore become a more decisive person who makes wiser choices in difficult, uncertain and even scary situations.  Our self-confidence and self-trust grow tremendously, as does our faith and spirituality.  We feel safer, which lets us be present with others. They soon notice a real and positive change!

The simplest way to master being present is to practice The First Rule of Inner Peace.  This universal spiritual principle, originally taught by Jesus, works with anyone of any faith background.  We learn that when we seek “peace first and results second,” we are naturally present, positive and centered.  This is upside-down to the common way of only feeling at peace after we get the results we want.

The first stage is to gain control over our racing mind. 

The book, “What’s Important Now” teaches six ways to let go of our past so we can focus our minds on the present. W.I.N. is John Kuypers’ top-selling book.  In it, we learn how to become centered and self-aware of the tiny moments that trigger fear and anxiety, robbing us of our ability to be at peace in the present moment.  This is the first of three stages on a  life-long journey towards inner peace.  We master self-awareness and get ‘peace of mind.’  Read about this book and get a free chapter download.

The second stage is to gain control over our volatile emotions.

The book, “The Non-Judgmental Christian” teaches five lessons that show us – in graphic detail using highly personal stories – how judgments are the buttons that people push which trigger our past wounds. Once triggered, a vicious cycle of judgmentalism, blame and accusing begins that feeds on itself. Breaking this cycle teaches us compassion. This is the second stage of the three stages to constant inner peace. We master self-acceptance and get ‘peace of heart.’

The third stage is to connect deeply with our soul.  We do this by intentionally giving away personal power. 

The book, “Who’s The Driver Anyway?” teaches a method for collaborating so people work together better. It is based on the simple metaphor of a driver-passenger relationship and how each shared decision-making power. WTDA empowers people to take the right level of responsibility for their role inside any system. You can learn about this stage for married couples by downloading a free article called The Near-Far Marriage Commitment. Deciding who gets to decide is the third and final stage of what we call the inner peace mission, where our only purpose is to save our self.  We master inner healing and we get peace in our soul.

Being neutral and non-judgmental before taking action is the key to being present, positive and at peace.

This gives us a quiet the mind so we can see clearly what we need to do and be at peace if things don’t work out as we hoped. “Be still and know that I am God” Psalm 46:10. When the mind, heart and soul are still, we are sensitive to the voice of God – the promptings of the Spirit. Now we move forward with confidence, trusting that we are getting the life we are meant to have by responding to difficulties from a love-centered place, not fear and anger.

When we are being present, we are tuned in to our ‘Quiet Inner Voice.’ This is sacred.  

Many of us are quite present when we first wake up. We “sleep” on our challenges. Then we wake up and we simply “know” what’s right for us. This is the Spirit prompting us. When we are in touch with our soul, the source of our being and who we really are, we can move forward in confidence.

A racing mind is evidence that you don’t trust that you are having the life you were meant to have.

This condition of constant self-analysis disconnects you from sensing the promptings of the Spirit.  You experience inner conflict and second-guessing – struggling to be true to yourself, yet afraid others will judge you if you do. People you care about feel unloved by you because you don’t feel loved yourself.

God exists in the present.

God describes himself as, “I AM Who I AM” in Exodus chapter 3. God is. He has always existed and so has the present moment. The past and future are merely ideas in our mind. No one can do anything real in the past or future. Only the present.

Enjoy these TEN practical benefits when you focus on being present:

Five performance benefits:

  1. Better performance under pressure. (you’re focused)
  2. Improved listening and memory skills (you’re “present-minded”, not “absent-minded”)
  3. Better conflict resolution (you don’t get emotionally ‘triggered’)
  4. More persistence and ability to learn (you are more patient and tolerant of difficulties)
  5. Wiser, clearer decisions (you don’t react out of habit)

Five health & relationship benefits:

  1. Improved physical health & energy. (less stress, lower blood pressure, sharper mind)
  2. More laughter and a playful outlook. (you’re at peace, so life is more joyful)
  3. More honest & open communication (you have nothing to hide)
  4. Confidence and conviction in leading others. (you can handle their criticisms)
  5. Greater capacity for emotional intimacy. (you are comfortable in your own skin)

I hope this explanation on what is being present has been helpful to you.  You can download a variety of free chapters from the books mentioned above.  If you are interested in taking real action in your life pursuit of inner peace, go to innerpeacemission.org.   There we offer courses, coaching and materials for people facing life-sized challenges and wanting to come to peace by leaning on the first rule of inner peace. “First get neutral…”

Being in the present is a gift that lasts a life-time…but remember, the only time anything real happens is in the present moment… so “act or accept but never stay stuck!”

Sincerely,

John Kuypers, Inner peace missionary  –  writer-speaker-coach
http://innerpeacemission.org  On-line coaching and learning services. For people who want to save their sanity now.