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Achieving Presence in Motion

The Art and Balance of Anchoring in the Present and taking Agency

We are natural creatives, dreamers and doers.The power of the human mind to hold a vision and then literally bring the future forward into the present by creating is remarkable. But, it is very easy to get carried away, to lose ourselves amongst our goals and feel full and empty at the same time – you might call this burnout!

So how do we utilize our creative potential to take agency, whilst also remaining mindful in the present moment and aligned with our core values? How do we remain present and in motion at the same time?

John Lennon used to speak of how his mother would tell him as a child that happiness is the key to success. So he’d go to school and his teachers would ask what he wanted to be when he grew up and he’d say “happy.” They’d reply, “John you don’t understand the assignment.” He told them they didn’t understand life.

Beneath all that we seek is usually an emotion or feeling. Becoming aware of this is very important so that we don’t create a dependency between these emotions and the ‘goal’ we’ve set. A father might want a fancy car, and it’s not until he asks himself ‘why’ 5 times that he’ll start to understand what the emotional driver is beneath this desire. Is it to feel significant? Is it to feel worthy? By becoming aware of what the real drivers are beneath our goals we develop the opportunity to release the dependency.We no longer relate to our goals in such a way as to say ‘when I get this, I will feel happy.’

One way to look at this is the ‘HAVE, DO, BE’ model. Many of us want to have a lot of things or do a lot of stuff, but we need to remember that we are actually wanting to be (or feel) a certain way. So being aware of the ‘being’ element of our goals is crucial.

An exercise I would recommend you do whenever you set a goal or notice a desire of any kind, is to ask yourself ‘why’ 5 times.Why do you want that? What are you actually seeking here? Then know that if it is a feeling of playfulness or freedom, you can actually feel these in any moment without the ‘need’ to get or achieve this thing first!

So how do you bring this into your day-to-day as you go out and get your goals? The Stoics used to say that we need to shift our perspective away from the pursuit of our objectives and towards the quality of the virtues we extol in our pursuit.We can be out there working hard and burning ourselves out to save up our money and get a property so that ‘one day’ we can relax and feel at peace, or we can be aware that it is this sense of peace and simplicity that we’re seeking and ensure that we extol these qualities along the way.

If you ever notice yourself get in a bit of a tassel, just ask yourself ‘how am I feeling?’ Then ask yourself ‘how would I like to feel?’ This is the art of presence in motion.

Ask yourself why. Get in touch with the ‘feeling’ beneath the doing. Know you can always feel that way with conscious choice. 

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People look for retreats for themselves, in the country, by the coast, or in the hills . . . There is nowhere that a person can find a more peaceful and trouble-free retreat than in his own mind. . . . So constantly give yourself this retreat, and renew yourself.

- MARCUS AURELIUS

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