This image is a parody of an iconic photo taken during the construction of Rockefeller Center in New York City back in the 1930s, according to Wikipedia. I have seen a print of it in a local restaurant, back when we were able to safely dine indoors. I remember the feeling I got in the pit of my stomach the first time I saw it — one misstep and it’s curtains. Fall to the ground like Wile E. Coyote.
It’s an appropriate metaphor for how I feel now and then during the pandemic. Any moment the balance could get out whack, and something bad happens. At least that’s the narrative between my ears. I imagine most of us have had similar experiences in the past several months. To help us out, Dr. Michael Gervais offers some perspective:
At first glance, it might be a jarring thought. Forget about balance? C’mon. I think he’s trying here to challenge our inner narrative to help us to return to our fundamentals, so that we can regain our balance. Focusing on presence is one fundamental that can help us with balance.
So, what does presence mean in this context? I think about it as “fully being where you are” – no distractions, no conflicts, just being here in the moment.
Working on our presence is working on exercising control of our behavior, and to handle the times when the Inner Critic may take over the microphone in the newscast of our lives. It is a skill — and therefore you can learn how to do it. There are a lot of ways to train ourselves to be more present. I really liked this particular article from the Positive Psychology website for some great ideas on how to build this skill. Mindfulness training can really help us here. If you scan this article, you will notice a large number of tips that include meditation or mindfulness training — I think of these terms interchangeably. Right now, Michaele and I are both in a New Year’s Meditation Challenge, from the 10% Happier app from Dan Harris (she’s invested a lot more in this so far, I need to get going!).
How does one work on presence? I think of it as applying my Agile Best Self North Star (to be a light) to situations I encounter? I’ve actually tweaked it a little bit — I say to myself, “how can I make this room better?” When I do this I find myself being more present in the moment, more focused, and ready to help others.
Some days being present is harder than others — especially in the current state of affairs. Like we learn in mindfulness training, when we notice we have wandered away from presence, just begin again. Improving our presence will help us keep our balance as we go forward. It might not help us from falling off a building, but it can help us live more in the moment and more fulfilled.
Copyright © 2021 Michaele Gardner and Brian Hackerson