Showing Up and Being Present

It seems to me that life is largely about just showing up.  It is amazing to me that it could be that simple – but I think that often that is all it takes. 

This thought first became clear to me when I was doing some volunteering.  People would be so appreciative of me, and literally all I had to do was show up physically.  I didn’t do anything but sit with someone so the caregiver could get out, but that is all it seemed to take to make the caregiver happy.  I would be happy to talk to someone or help them with something, but often I would just sit there and do crossword puzzles while they slept.   I really didn’t have to do anything, I just had to be there.  That was an eye-opening thing to discover – I was used to being a ‘doing’ person, more than a ‘being’ person.

You know that saying about being just one person in the world, but to one person you just may BE the world?  That’s how it felt – it seemed to me that I was just there doing nothing, but what that meant to the other person was so much more. In some cases it was the only time they got a couple hours to get out of the house – to go shopping or to just take a walk.  It meant the world to them that someone would come and give them that freedom.  And all I did was show up.

I have been cultivating this ‘just showing up’ thing, and noticing how it really makes a difference.  And I have added something to it;  now I just show up AND I try hard to be totally present when I do show up.  Sometimes that is harder for me than I think it should be – there are always other things to think about, to plan, to reflect on.  But I have noticed a real gift in just being where I am, when I am there.

It almost seems like heresy in this culture that worships do-do-do and multi-tasking. I admit to being a bit of a recovering multitasker.  I used to pride myself on how many things I could do at once.  There are still some places in my life where I multitask and it works.   And I have realized that there are other things that just really benefit from getting all my attention while I am doing or thinking about them.  So now I sometimes multitask, and sometimes don’t;  for instance, I can do my laundry and something else at the same time.  My laundry needs my full attention only when I am loading the washer or dryer & folding things.  There are long periods in between where I can concentrate on other things, like cleaning or reading.

And when I am spending time with people, I try to put my multitasking instincts away, and really be where I am, with who I am with – fully present.  I try to really show up with all of me.  Whether I am listening to or discussing with or just sitting quietly with someone, I really want to show up and be present.

How about you?  Do you have places or people with whom you not only show up, but you show up fully present? Do you find yourself going places and talking to people, all the while thinking about other places you need to go, other people you need to see, things in the future that need to be done and things in the past you wish had gone differently?

You don’t HAVE to do anything any differently than you do now – you get to choose about your life.  If you are curious about it, I would invite you to pick a time coming up and see how showing up totally present feels to you.  And if you feel like sharing your experience, this is a great place to do that!

3 comments to Showing Up and Being Present

  • Bob

    I agree, showing is only the first step, you have to be present. I find this especially true when I am on a conference call. If I allow myself to read emails I end up not hearing the call and not taking part in the conversation.

    • Judy Stoffel Loewen

      How trrue. If I start to get just a wee bit bored I have to fight the urge to start a Solitaire game! If I just stay present long enough, I usually become fully engaged. THanks for the comment!

  • Max Baldonado

    Thanks for you insight Judy. There seem to be endless opportunities to practice be full present. Now I feel my arms touch the table … and my fingers lightly touching each key as I type this reply. Will take this lesson with me today and will commit to being fully present.

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