We hear a lot about the importance of being more present, almost to the point of it becoming a cliché. But when we stop to actually think about what it means to be in the present moment, it’s kind of laughable that we don’t seem to be naturally oriented to be there, because the present moment is where life is.
All the striving and creating and collecting and cleaning is all for the purpose of having this thing called “my life.” And yet, how often am I actually “in” my life?
Today’s guest is Raphael Cushnir, the author of six books, including How Now: 100 Ways to Celebrate the Present Moment, which we’ll dive into in this week’s conversation. He’s a leading voice in the world of emotional connection and present moment awareness, and he lectures worldwide at such places as Esalen Institute, the Kripalu Center for Yoga and Health, and the Omega Institute for Holistic Studies.
I feel like such a novice at dropping into the present moment. But I’ve taken visits there enough times over the past few years to know that the present moment isn’t just where I can sip the juice of life, it’s where I find myself and my inner knowing. But how, how do we bring ourselves back to “the now” consistently and thoroughly? Take a listen to this conversation to find out.
1. We can bring a playful spirit to this quest to become more present; it doesn’t have to feel heavy or obligatory. We actually get more out of it when we are lighthearted and playful in the experience.
2. As Raphael says, the present moment is where life happens. Being consumed about the past makes no sense because it’s already happened, it’s gone. Being consumed by the future makes so sense because it hasn’t happened yet and we can’t possibly predict how life will go. But being in the now is where you can connect more fully to the vibrancy of your life. It’s the only place where we can feel alive.
3. Merging your awareness with your present experiences doesn’t have to entail meditating or chewing a raisin for ten minutes. It could simply be a practice of choosing to notice what’s here in the present moment: the temperature, lights, smells, sounds, and inner stirrings and sensations.
4. Raphael shared that life is an ever-evolving balance of structure and flow. One way to bring more mindfulness to this dance is to notice the energy we have in a present moment and then match the energy to an action. What we normally do is go through our day doing the next thing and then the next thing without ever checking in to see whether our internal energy is actually aligning with that activity.
5. When we tune in we can find the space to make inspired decisions and find our discernment. We can move beyond our default judgements of what’s good and bad and instead begin to contemplate what’s truly right for us in the moment.
6. We are oriented toward a culture that is speeding up. Intentionally slowing down helps us build distress tolerance and to get a view of what’s happening around us and inside us. It’s in those moments that we can tune into our deeper truths and, if need be, correct our course.
7. If you feel resistance in life or in your present moment practice, follow it. When something triggers us, makes us uncomfortable or tense, that’s the place to sit in inquiry and curiosity rather than be swept away by the feeling of resistance. We can heal ourselves and evolve when we start visiting our edges for the purpose of moving beyond them.
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A big thanks to Raphael Cushnir for being my guest this week. You can learn more about his books, workshops and retreats at http://www.cushnir.com, where you’ll also find a ton of free resources related to our discussion.
Perhaps my favorite moment in this interview was when Raphael spoke of being present to his hearts intelligence. I just loved the phrase “hearts intelligence” and I wonder if that resonated with you, too.
Until next time,