How to Find Presence in 5 Simple Steps

Health & Wellness

Photo by Jeewon Park @zeewipark via Cat Morrison @ __s____o

Let me start by saying I am not by nature someone you would consider present. Calm? Yes. Focused? Yes. And while those two things make me appear outwardly present and mindful, inside my brain is a chattering mess of nonsense.

I’m a work in progress, if you will.

On a mission this year to simplify, plug in, and find more JOY in daily life, I borrowed a lesson from my meditation practice to spill over to the rest of my day, especially when I’m out and about.

A trusted exercise I return to regularly for meditation is a quick five senses body scan. It’s so simple, yet so powerful in really bringing me back to the present moment.

Recently, I tested this same technique while out with a friend. An empathic introvert by nature, and also a design lover and people watcher, I am easily distracted and unfocused when out in the real world. My eyes and brain are eager to take in new spaces and design details, while my heart is wanting to focus solely on the conversation and the people I’m spending time with. Taking a pause to quickly scan my five physical senses gives me the chance to first take in the beauty and energy of my surroundings, and then mindfully reengage in my conversation and company.

Taking a pause to quickly scan my five physical senses gives me the chance to first take in the beauty and energy of my surroundings, and then mindfully reengage in my conversation and company.

I work my way through a quick series of questions that go something like this:

What am I seeing?

The design lover in me wants to notice ALL the details. The colors, the materials, the people around me. Giving my eyes a few moments to soak this information in helps me to then focus back in on the company I’m truly there to enjoy.

What am I hearing?

Is it loud and boisterous? Calm and quiet? Taking a pause to soak in the sound often helps me understand what kind of vibe is in the space and to adjust my attention accordingly.

What am I smelling?

Fresh flowers, a hint of truffle, something sweet. Letting my nose have a chance to celebrate all the beautiful scents allows me to connect to the nostalgia and emotion so often associated with smell.

What am I tasting?

As food and drinks arrive, savoring the first few bites and really noticing the notes and tastes allows me to enjoy what I’ve ordered.

What am I touching?

Physically grounding myself into the surface, textures, and space around me pulls my attention back to my own personal space and body.

Lastly, I’ve added a check-in on my emotions. What am I feeling in this moment? Am I excited to see an old friend, nervous to meet a new one, anxious and tired from my day? Allowing myself to notice and name these feelings enables me to settle into the present moment and enjoy the experience more fully.

I’ll be revisiting this approach again and again over the coming weeks of holiday festivities and even in quiet meals at home with my daughter. Here’s to finding more joy and connection in each day.


BY Jill Elliott - December 6, 2019

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5 Comments  +

add a comment

  1. Andrea

    December 6th, 2019 at 5:47 pm

    Ok trying this! How practical and easy to remember, and it even seems like it would be *fun*. And I am certain this practice would a greater sense of fullness to each moment.✨

    K, update: just tried this in my kitchen while my toddler and husband are sleeping, in a very nothing-special moment, and it made it feel special. Thank you for this!

  2. Jill Elliott

    December 17th, 2019 at 11:49 am

    Love this Andrea! Glad it worked for you, and love that you made it FUN!

  3. Mykki

    December 11th, 2019 at 9:39 am

    I’ve seen this technique suggested in tandem with anxiety attacks, but it never worked for me because my anxiety is often triggered by external stuff happening around me where I become overstimulated…

    But I like the idea of using it as a focusing tool! This is great!

  4. Jill Elliott

    December 17th, 2019 at 11:48 am

    Hi Mykki! Hope that it helps you this holiday season!

  5. Sheri

    January 10th, 2020 at 3:37 pm

    Catching up on old posts and you just described me to a T! So going to try this technique. Thank you.

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