Have you ever noticed how strangely difficult it is to just be right here, right now?

Not recalling the past. Not considering what’s next. Not analyzing, judging, storytelling or narrating, but simply being here, purely in the moment, in a soft and open way.

It’s a completely different mode from what we’re used to — a far cry from living in our heads and reflexively reacting to the whims of our conditioned and compulsive thoughts.

I’m keenly aware of how my tendency to approach most things as a means to an end and frenetically think/try/do is eating into the richness of my days. I yearn to savor this wild and precious life, but my default programming makes each day seem basic and busy instead.

This is why meditation can be so powerful.

We know by now that the benefits are vast, but for me, nothing is more appealing than honing my ability to actually show up in my life.

I try to take just a few minutes to work on my presence skills in isolation to become more familiar with this quality and able to fluidly infuse it into my day.

But of course, presence doesn’t require action — not even meditation. It mostly entails not doing what we usually do. That is, not being absorbed in our thoughts as though the world we construct in our heads is ultimately what’s real.

Presence is characterized by openness and acceptance, or nonresistance through and through.

Try this to get a taste:

Feel into your body. Notice the excess tension you’re carrying and allow it to soften. Take a moment to settle into your body and allow the physical release to yield a visceral openness. See if you can replicate that in your mind, too. Whatever you’ve been holding onto mentally, soften your grip. Settle back and allow this sense of openness on every level.

Now, while rooted in that, ask yourself, “can I be the space for this?”, with this referring to whatever is before you right now.

Anytime is a good time to step into presence. You can practice what we just sampled on the meditation cushion, or simply whenever you think of it. Great moments include whenever you find yourself thinking “I should meditate,” or feel a degree of inner struggle.

However you do it, I’ve found prioritizing presence to be a promising path. It’s led me straight into pain more times than I’d prefer, but then through and beyond it in beautiful and unexpected ways.

If you’d like to join me in building presence muscles up, I’m starting “mini meditation Mondays” for at least the next few months. I want this to be fluid and manageable, not daunting and easy to blow off, so sessions will be just 5-10 minutes per week. We’ll tap into the vibe I’ve been describing for just long enough to experience its essence, then carry on, aiming to weave it in where it really matters — in our lives. Register and get info on my website, marcisharif.com.

Cheers to really showing up for this holiday season and into the new year.

And most importantly: now.

Marci Izard Sharif is an author, yoga teacher, meditation facilitator and mother. In Feeling Matters, she writes about self-love, sharing self-care tools, stories and resources that center around knowing and being kind to yourself. For her classes and more, go to marcisharif.com.

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