I am not sure how they do it in school now but I remember responding to my Roll call with a loud enthusiastic“Present Miss!” In fact, I remember each one of my friends had a unique way to respond. We marked our attendance with that shout, but is the physical presence equivalent to being really present?
I have a cook who comes to the house. She is one bright spirited lady who makes tasty food in a jiffy. Her cleanliness and neatness while prepping up is something to learn. It’s been more than fifteen years since she has chosen cooking as her profession and is quite proud that she has not had a single major complaint until now. I asked her how she manages to remember the exact taste preferences of so many houses (Seven exactly). She replied in Kannada, “When I step into a house, I leave all my personal thoughts on the doorstep. I am only thinking of food and the taste the family would want.”
Her mantra to do her job well is “Be present in the moment”
When we are being present in the moment we have our awareness directed on the outside. Our mind is not travelling to the past or future but is focussed on the now. And that is a very useful and powerful way to be as there is no conflict in the mind and our energy is directed towards what matters most at that moment.
Why practice being present in the moment?
In my earlier blog, https://blogmanjiri.wordpress.com/2017/04/13/presence-what-is-that/, I have spoken about the presence of a person. It has been observed that people who have a presence have the ability to focus their attention on the now. People with presence are other conscious and turn around each situation to be not about them but about others. That’s what great leaders do, make others feel important. Since their attention is outside they are observant to the changes in the mood and energy of the others and shift their communication accordingly. So if you wish to have a presence at work, this ability would be very necessary to develop.
Recently I saw an incident. After a meeting, we were served some ice-cream. The hostess was taking great pride is explaining how she had arranged for the special flavour. Then she asked a lady participant if she was enjoying the flavour. The other lady immediately said, “Yeah, we have it all the time”. Clearly, the lady had missed the question! The hostesses gleaming face lost its colour in a flash. As an observer, I witnessed the importance of being uptime. It helps us to respond rather than react, be observant of the non- verbal feedback in communication and build relations.
Practicing being in the moment also helps us to manage our state/mood during the day. We can easily get anxious, moody or indifferent during the day as millions of things are happening around us. But when we choose to be present in the moment we automatically throw away the choice to carry emotional baggage of any incident in the past or during the day that has affected us. We look at every interaction with fresh eyes and that helps us come alive in the discussion. It enables us to give full attention to our job.
Just as being mindful of the moment is useful, going inward and spending time with ourselves or our thoughts is also equally important. Both have its own importance, but the choosing has to be done wisely. When you are making those presentations in office, getting into the thoughtful mode may not be helpful. There, being present in the moment would be an essential pre-requisite to think on your feet.
One of the ways to be present in the moment is by using a simple NLP principle called “Uptime”. Being uptime means you are breaking your attention away from you and focussing it towards the outside world. It is about taking a break from self and noticing the environment and others. It’s a state where you direct your attention towards people and observe things more as for how they really are. You observe changes in their physiology, listen to how far they seem to understand, notice whether the conversation is moving in a useful direction etc and look at it as information…..just information. However, the moment you begin to form your own interpretations, the mind begins to travel and you lose your uptime.
Try and recall a time when you had travelled for a vacation or otherwise to a new place. Remember how you were being as you absorbed the new surroundings around you? How you had looked at everything with bright unmarked eyes? That’s your Uptime!
Getting into uptime is a way of energizing yourself, turning on to the world, shining your flashlight ahead of you – Anne Linden
Keep that smile on….