Copyright (c) 2010 Willie Horton
If you’ve read pretty much anything at all on the subject of personal development or self improvement then you will have some appreciation of the importance placed by many experts on the important of being focused in the present moment. Ekhart Tolle’s bestselling book, ‘The Power of Now’ extols the virtues of what might loosely be described as presence of mind. However, Tolle, together with many other personal development ‘gurus’, does not, in my view, either adequately explain why ‘Now’ is so important or, indeed, provide real or practical advice on how to be more present or, indeed, what benefits being present might produce in ordinary, everyday practical terms. So, let me deal with these issues.
First of all, now is the only time and place that actually exists – the past is something from which one should learn (although it has to be said that, as psychology proves, most people do not learn from the past but, instead, continually subconsciously live there) and the future is something that will only pan out the way we would desire if we’re prepared to be effective and focused in the here and now. In addition, quantum physics tells us that, in fact, the universe only exists in the present moment, vibrating in and out of existence, as it does, moment to moment. Again, quantum physics has proven that the energy of the universe is responsive to our input of energy – but the only thing that we can put our energy into is where we are and what we’re supposed to be doing now. In simple terms, it is vital to be present here and now. Being present creates what might normally be called ‘presence’ – the hallmark of all extraordinarily successful people.
The big problem with ‘now’ is that normal people are not present. Psychology proves conclusively that the normal subconscious mind is focused in the past – in fact a past long-gone, given that our subconscious focus is stuck in our so-called formative years. As if that weren’t self-destructive enough, our conscious mind is, at the very least, distracted by useless thought – at worst, those thoughts drift towards the negative, exhibiting the results through worry and self-doubt. In fact, university research, stretching over a couple of decades at this stage, suggests that the normal mind is only one percent present. If you are only one percent present, you are very unlikely to elicit much response from an otherwise responsive universe.
In short, it is imperative that we become more present and develop our presence. But what does that actually mean? Being present means being focused on where you are and what you’re doing now. Many people – if surveys are to be believed, the majority of people – are not focused on what they’re doing, preferring instead to do what they’re doing through the fog of useless thought that tells them that they don’t like their work. In addition, most people haven’t grasped the simplicity of what focus actually is. Focus means paying attention – pure and simple. Paying attention means tuning into the reality of the moment, using the only mechanism that you have at your disposal to do this – your five senses. Your body and its five senses are your only interface with the outside world. Research shows that the normal person pays little or no attention to what their senses are telling them preferring, instead, to let their subconscious mind put its own spin or interpretation on the reality of the moment. Remember that interpretation is created by reference to the subconscious mind’s obsession with what impressed you during your formative years – it has nothing to do with what is actually going on. In other words, we all use our long-held preconceived notions to make sense of the present moment and, in the process, make complete and utter nonsense of it.
You need to relearn how to pay attention. We were all experts at being present when we were young children – we have to return to that childlike (not childish) state of mind where everything is new to us, everyone and everything presents us with myriad opportunities. The best way to start this relearning process is to set a little time aside to re-focus one sense at a time. By way of suggestion, why not find somewhere quiet to sit tomorrow morning. Close your eyes and notice how all the sounds around you become more pronounced. They’re not, of course, it’s just that you’re paying more attention. Notice little sensations in your body – feelings that you would not notice when you’re normally inattentive. Another morning you might spend a few minutes noticing how your body reacts each time you breathe – all the way down to noticing which nostril the air goes through when you breathe in and out. Five or ten minutes each morning will vastly affect your ability to pay attention for the rest of the day – you will be more focused, more present, more tuned into what’s going on and what opportunities the moment might offer.
Which leads me to the extraordinary benefits of presence. My clients can measure their presence by reference to their results. They find themselves more responsive to situations and people that they might otherwise fail to see or avoid completely, they find themselves more open to doing things that they would not otherwise do. And, on the basis that the one thing that has your life stuck in its present rut is the fact that you rarely do anything different, bold or brave, this can only be a good thing. Essentially, through your presence you will not just be open to new opportunity but, through a heightened ability to take action, you will actually create your own opportunities. The net result is that, at least, your life moves forward – in the right direction. At most, your life will never be the same – you will achieve effortless, measurable, happiness and success.
Willie Horton enables his clients live their dream – since he launched his acclaimed Personal Development Seminars in 1996. His clients include major corporations: Pfizer, Deloitte, Nestle, Wyeth, KPMG, G4S & Allergan. An Irishman, he lives in the French Alps and travels the world as a much sought after speaker and mentor. In 2008 he launched Gurdy.Net home to his Online Personal Development Seminars, Change Your Life & No More Stress