Being Present in Life and Work

I have written a lot of articles about work-life balance. Back in 2010, I shared that to be balanced in work and life we need to stop compartmentalizing our lives and look at bringing our work and life into wholeness. I have encouraged you to explore the cost of constantly “doing.”   And we have looked into our thoughts about time – as David Byrne aptly sung, “Time isn’t holding up, time isn’t after us.” Through all my exploration of work-life balance, at the core of finding our balance, of releasing the pressure to do, of getting out from under the time crunch, is learning, becoming, and being more present at work.

For a long time, being present was the subject of yogis and spiritual leaders. Now it is becoming more mainstream and has been adopted by many companies. Catherine Johns shares a great article of how mindfulness has entered the workspace, and how it is changing our experience and efficiency of work. To be present or mindful is to be aware of and in control of your experience. I agree with Eckhardt Tolle that now is a time of awakening of our consciousness. This can be on a deep spiritual level for some of us, and for many it is simply the opportunity to stop being stuck in the routine of life and finally take the time to ask why before we act.

man outside of swimming pool
Photo by Chris Benson on Unsplash

Being present is moving up to the 40,000-foot vision instead of trudging through our daily life. Being present is stepping back and seeing the broader picture of what we have agreed to participate in. Think of it like being in a swimming pool. When you are in the water, you are focusing on staying afloat. Maybe you are struggling. Maybe you are floating gently. Maybe you are splashing your pal. But you are in the water and all you can see is water. When you are outside of the pool, you can see the boundaries of the pool. You can become aware of how others are using the pool. You can see those who are afraid or those who are Olympian swimmers. Being present is having the perspective of being outside of the pool, while being in it.

Another way to look at this is when a friend shares with you issues in her workplace. She tells you about issues between departments and people. She expresses challenges with deadlines or technologies. You can understand what she is sharing, but you are not experiencing it. You are separate from it. Often you can provide insight into her situation because you are outside of it and can be objective.  Being present is being outside of and objective about our own lives.

Being present is watching our emotions instead of being sucked into them. Being present is realizing we are not trapped in a certain situation. Being present distances us from challenges where we can rise above and make choices based on perspective, not fear. Being present is knowing we are separate from our thoughts and beliefs. Being present is rising above life, so we can make better choices in life.

Have you experienced being present? At home or at work? What did it feel like? What did being present allow you to do that you couldn’t when you were unconscious in the situation? How do you include being present in throughout your day?

Augmented Reality

I was speaking with my friend Melissa Amling that other day who was telling me about her virtual reality concept for a new children’s book. It is a very interesting idea to bring children into the world of the book so they could fully experience and become a part of the story. She then mentioned the newest craze, augmented reality. Augmented reality is using glasses to reveal graphics and audio as well as enhancements to our senses, into the actual world around us.

by Matthew Henry
by Matthew Henry

Melissa said augmented reality allows us “to see things that are not there and to experience them as real.” I thought perhaps that Pokémon GO was a type of augmented reality, but to the experts that does not take it far enough. Scientific American wrote a great article explaining augmented and mixed reality. Where Pokémon GO could only be viewed through a phone and was not immersive, augmented reality merges computer produced items into our reality seamlessly creating a new, enhanced reality. I wrote recently about how our brain can be influenced to see things that are not really there and now it seems this technology is making the most of our easily manipulated brains.

“To see things that are not there and to experience them as real.” How often does this play out in our lives? How often does a fear consume us and suddenly cover our reality with negativity? How often do we take someone’s opinion and make it into a truth? How often do we want to believe something is real so we make it into a fact in our own minds? How often do we color everything we see and experience with our own bias and suppositions?

We now live in a world of alternative facts. We see things as we want to see them. We have a narrow view of how things should be and we try to interpret everything we see according to our beliefs and understanding. What happens is we are pained and stressed when the actual reality does not meet our expectations and/or we alienate others because they can not see things through our filters. What we need is to release our beliefs, to release our desire to control, release our fear of reality, and embrace what truly is. Mindfulness can help us get there.

Mindfulness teaches us to release our bias and our filters allowing us to see things as they truly are. Through mindfulness we can experience things as they are without our beliefs and expectations. Mindfulness releases our judgments helping us gain a true view and acceptance of reality. When we are mindful, we are in the present moment. We are not trying to relive our past or feed our fears thereby coloring the present. When we can be truly and completely in the moment we are empowered by seeing things as they actually are. It is in this state that we find peace and clear actions.

You can learn more about mindfulness in this article.