Must be Present to Win

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Must be Present to Win

Mindfulness and Presence

I recently read the following passage on presence from the book Kitchen Table Wisdom by Rachel Naomi Remen, MD. Since then it keeps popping into my mind – a clear sign of resonance.

“Life is the ultimate teacher, but it is usually through experience and not scientific research that we discover its deepest lessons…So fulfilling life’s purpose may depend more on how we play than what we are dealt. Jack Kornfield, the Buddist teacher, describes a spiritual truth he learned at a bingo game…There on the wall, in huge letters, was a sign reminding the players, You Have to Be Present to Win.”

It struck me that this truth applies to many aspects of life. Whether in a meeting, at dinner with friends, doing yard work, meeting new clients, playing a game with family members, or even walking the dog “you have to be present to win.” I have been attempting to practice mindfulness for a few years now. For me that means being mindful as opposed to mindless and focusing on everything I’m sensing in the moment, without judging it. Practicing meditation helps, but I only meditate for a small slice of time each day – if I even get to it daily. This passage in Remen’s book reminded me that to get anything meaningful out of life I need to focus more on being present in everyday ways.

Truly listening to a colleague describe a success or a challenge or when someone introduces themselves to me at a busy event makes it possible to engage more fully in the experience – to connect fully with another person. Real meaningful connection happens too infrequently in our digital world today. Making that kind of connection is a win. Paying mindful attention to driving in rush hour traffic (frequently a mind-numbing experience) saves us and others from accidents – another win. Eating dinner with our families without cell phones at the table is an act of winning presence too.

Bringing greater awareness of daily experiences to mind in the moment is my challenge to myself this month. How about you? Do you have any stories of how being present to win really impacted you? I’d love to hear your story. I promise to read it mindfully.

Want to learn more about mindfulness, check out the resources at the University of Massachusetts Center for Mindfulness.

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