The Wisdom of Being Present: Switching Off

Recently I was giving an interview and talking about Mindfulness. We talked about switching off and practicing the art of staying in the moment. Sometimes, people seem to think that, given that I mainly teach NLP and Psychology, I do not ‘believe’ in Mindfulness or Meditation or it is somehow a rival to what I do. In actual fact, I believe in anything that helps and in my opinion these kinds of practices really help.

Mindfulness, for example, is basically the practice of you staying in the present and being aware of the moment itself, what is going on around you and inside you. Simply noticing the world and paying attention to it happening and noticing your thoughts as they appear. Also, noticing your emotions and physical sensations that you experience without judging them or extracting meaning from them.

How does it work or help someone? Very simple. By being mindful you stop your brain doing what it likes to do… which is to think thoughts. Although some of those thoughts are great, many of them involve your brain getting you to feel bad about the past or feel scared or anxious about the future. Most of our bad feelings come from our thoughts of either one of those times.

While I believe that it is important to learn from the past and look forward to the future, designing your ideal life and setting goals… I also believe that practicing to stay in the present has many great advantages and merits. You see, by being able to give your brain that freedom it really helps you to switch off and recharge yourself.

Your brain is bombarded with so much information and you have so much going on. Email and our phones have made this worse than ever. We have a constant stream of information that is coming in and going out. We are addicted. Why? Because our brains become wired in. We get a release of dopamine (a feel good chemical) whenever we use such devices and receive and send messages. So, our brains are continuously plugged in.

The world is chaotic and therefore it is easier than ever to be stressed and anxious. So, practicing to get your brain switched off and simply ‘being’ is really good for you and helps you to handle everything much more effectively. You see clearing your mind is not just good at the time; it conditions you to feel much better able to handle the world.

When I visited North Korea a few years ago, I was forced to leave my phone in China while I was there. For the first couple of days I was suffering from phone withdrawal and kept checking my pockets involuntarily. After a day or two, I got used to it and I literally felt amazing. It felt so liberating to not have any requests for my attention except what I was experiencing through my senses. 

Although I do use my phone plenty, I will often give myself breaks from all technology just to help me focus on the present and give my brain a break. It thanks me for it. So, consider what you can do to give your brain a break and try staying in the present. It is simple to try and just takes practice to master.


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