With the days getting noticeably shorter, I’m thinking back to the first camping weekend of the summer. I loved spending all day outside on the summer solstice (the longest day of the year), soaking up the sun and all the natural beauty.
The topic of presence came up. My friends & I shared a common struggle about our attention spans & how it feels like it keeps getting shorter & shorter with modern technology, social media, and lifestyles. And how it’s getting harder to just be present in the moment.
Have you struggled with attention span & being present, too?
This started to feel like a big struggle for me since the pandemic started (I can’t be alone in this lol). Over the past year or so, I’ve been exploring ways to build my capacity for presence & improve my attention span.
Today I wanted to share some of the things that I’ve tried!
Disclaimer – This is what I’ve tried and found helpful. What works for you will be different! It’s worth experimenting so we can each discover what helps us show up more fully in our lives, relationships, and communities.
- Daily meditation – I’ve practiced meditation for several years. At the beginning of this year, I wanted to see what would happen if I didn’t meditate and WOW – I absolutely noticed my ability to focus suffered without that daily time for training my mind.
- Walking or hiking in silence – Intentionally leaving my headphones at home for a solo hike has been massive for me. It was a bit strange at first, but it allowed me to show up for myself.
- Doing chores like dishes/cleaning or driving with NO music, entertainment, or distractions.
- Playing a team sport – or exercising alone without any headphones to listen to podcasts, music, or the news
- Attend a class and take notes – This practice is easier for in-person classes, but with virtual classes, ensure to put your phone out of reach and close out browsers/distractions on your computer.
- Use Do Not Disturb mode on your phone when you need to cut back on external distractions. If this makes you nervous about missing something important from your loved ones, you can allow certain people to still notify you, while DND is on.
- Stream of consciousness journaling – Do your Morning Pages and get all that crap that keeps your mind cluttered out. There’s a real release to writing it all out.
- Doing a boudoir session with me 😉 – I have built the Embodied Art Boudoir experience around experiencing more presence and coaching for it throughout the photoshoot!
Do you notice the trend in my suggestions?
It’s all about cutting down the multitasking in favor of single-tasking!
When we multitask, we’re splitting our mind’s focus between two or more tasks at the same time. When we single-task, we’re training our minds to be fully focused on one single thing at a time.
Some of my biggest multitasking traps include playing on my phone while watching tv/movies, watching tv while cooking, and listening to podcasts while driving. For you, it might include listening to the news while you exercise or playing on your phone while eating.
It’s not about eliminating ALL multi-tasking (I think all moms out there would agree this is unrealistic!).
Cultivating presence is about creating SPACE and INTENTION to focus your mind on one single thing at a time.
You are training your ability to be more present.
“Anyone who acts without paying attention to what he is doing is wasting his life. I’d go so far as to say life is denied by lack of attention, whether it be cleaning windows or trying to write a masterpiece.”
Whether that’s a 5-minute daily meditation, solo walks around the neighborhood with no headphones, or watching tv in the evening without your phone in reach.
I know it’s hard in a culture that idolizes hustling and learning at all times to advance. I definitely struggle with wanting to ‘stack’ my activities to feel more productive, like learning something on a podcast while driving.
But if you think about it, training your mind to focus by doing less IS a growth activity. You’re improving your attention span & growing your capacity for presence.
In the end, you may find yourself enjoying those everyday moments and appreciating the sweetness of life a little bit more.
- Working fewer hours because you’re less distracted during work hours and you can complete your work sooner
- Being fully present with your kids’ thanks to no phone distractions
- Deeply engaging in conversation with a friend or partner that brings you closer together
- Enjoying beautiful nature without worrying about missing a notification
Those all sound amazing to me! How about you?
I’d love to hear about your struggles with attention, focus, and cultivating presence.
Can you identify any situations in your life where you feel fully present & engaged in the current moment?