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Habit Four: Presence

Where are you? Present or somewhere else? If a graph could be drawn showing where your mind was for most of the day how much would be taken up with stuff from the past or things yet to happen – rather than being present? And what would happen if you try to bring your attention to the present moment when you’re on your own, somewhere still and quiet and there are no attention distractions. Have you ever learned to overcome the mental entropy that bombards us in those moments?

Read the introduction to the Seven Habits of Smiley Spiritual People and habits 1, 2 & 3 in this series.

{short_nav_title} Tomorrow is more important than next year, today is more important than tomorrow and right now is the most important part of today. Now is the only moment when you can experience the good stuff, the fruits of ego free presence: happiness, confidence, wisdom, love, peace and in any way be fully alive. You are in fact only ever in the now – but one part of you, a part that is a malfunctioning tool has taken over somewhat – your mind. The most recent part of the brain, which is far from perfect in its functioning, has taken over – sometimes we even believe it when it tells us that it is us; ‘I am my thoughts’ therefore ‘I am worried’, or ‘I am confused’.


Attention: Open or Focussed (these are good)

Look at this diagram, where is your attention most of the time? If it is present it will be focused fully on a single thing (close your eyes and breath in and out focusing on where in your body you feel the passage of the breath most strongly), or it may be open; alert to everything that is present (sit still for a moment and bring your attention to the space you are in as fully as you can). Your attention can also be present with a combination of both of these and also a mixture of internal and external presence. (Focus on looking at one single object but bring your open attention to any sensations arising from the energy in your body.)

Attention: Captured or Scattered (not so good)

If your attention is anywhere other than the present it might be captured (by something past or future) or scattered (all over the place, not able to focus). The degree to which your mind isn’t present is the same degree to which you are missing out on the good stuff, the fruits of this moment, and replacing them with egoic mind patterns like worry, or anger. How this tool was supposed to be used was for practical, egoic free things like the occasional bit of logistical planning. We’re the only animal that can imagine the future the way we do but we’re not at all accurate with it. Ancient wisdom springs to mind: ‘Do not worry about tomorrow’ and the slightly more concerning ‘don’t spend all of your time worrying about life. If you do, the final day will suddenly catch you.


  • Read The Power of Now.
  • Our easiest way into the present is through moments of flow which tend to occur when we’re involved in a hobby or sport but they can be applied to all areas of life. Find out more through the book flow.Flow moments have some similar characteristics: the task is challenging but suits your skill level, you concentrate, there are clear goals, you get immediate feedback, you are deeply involved, you have a sense of control, your sense of self vanishes, time seems to stop.
  • Develop mindfulness practice. Mindfulness is commonly associated with Buddhist traditions but the teachings and techniques are accessible to anyone from any tradition. I have found this book really useful. Formal practices are things like meditation. Make yourself a meditation stool and set aside a regular time each day to explore mindfulness meditation.Informal practices are those moments during the day when you can remind yourself to bring your attention to the present: as you arrive home, when you begin a new task, when the phone rings. Take three mindful breaths.

Habit Five - Kindness.

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Your comments:

This is lovely input that calms as you read it and inspires one to change.  However we need constant reminders to keep us on a course! Thanks.

#1. By Peter Bruce on July 18, 2008

the wheel of life was spot on. time for changes!!
thankyou bruce

#2. By paula on April 02, 2009

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@NHSAdrianO more seriously would be interesting to know the consensus around what the problems are: always the best place to start #PowysHCS
2 Dec

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2 Dec

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2 Dec

@NHSAdrianO one idea with existing tech, no-one else is doing and quite a Powys solution would be ...
2 Dec