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Mindfulness: What Does It Mean to Be Present in Our Daily Lives?

Updated on August 1, 2019

Are We Present In Our Daily Lives?

I recall a vivid memory of strolling along one of the streets of Paris caught up in the novelty of being somewhere I had never been before, hearing people talk and not understanding them and then there was a moment of presence. I thought, ‘here I am, this is me. I’m in Paris, France!’ I’m sure these kind of moments have happened to you as well. We are often more present in new locations and experiences.

In everyday life we become so accustomed to doing whatever we are doing, that we forget to tune in and BE present in the moment. We can look around in our everyday world and see this often. We see the effects of people living without really BEing mindful and aware. Some, sadly, will go a lifetime without having been truly present in their own lives.

There are countless accidents, mistakes, missed opportunities, broken lives, senseless, sometimes catastrophic events that take place everyday in our world as a result of not being present and mindful of our surroundings. Now, even more so, people are 'tuning in' with wireless devices, carrying around gadgets to keep in touch with others, texting as they walk, drive, work, go to the bathroom, on and on, anywhere and everywhere they go. Are people really present in their environments? This article is about learning to be present, how to become more aware, mindful, connected to our own lives.

Being present is our natural state.
Being present is our natural state. | Source

What Is Presence?

What is it? Presence is not a religious experience, although it may be for some who practice religion. Presence is simply being aware of your own being, your body, your breath, your thoughts, your surroundings. We are not our thoughts. Our thoughts are only part of our mind. We are a whole human being. Where are you now? What are you doing? Look at your hands, your arms, your legs, turn your head and look around. Touch your arm. Breathe deeply and feel it released on your hand. This is part of you. What is your conscious thought? Do you know what your next thought will be?

Presence is being intensely conscious of our surroundings, and what we are doing in this present moment. When our being becomes conscious of itself, we are present. The moment we realize we’re not present, we’re present! Being present is our natural state. It is unnatural to be disconnected from who we are. Presence becomes a gift to ourselves.


Come, Take A Walk With Me

Often the easiest way to illustrate a concept is to share an experience of how this concept works. I’ll take you along on some of my daily walks. Yesterday I was walking along the side of the house to get the garbage can to set out for today’s pick up. I glanced at the hole where the turtle lives and noticed movement. I usually don't see it. I looked a little closer, as there was a nice, shiny black racer trying to enter the hole. I stood there and watched for a minute and observed how the turtle protected its territory.

The snake looked ready to strike, but retreated and laid still beside the house, as now, it sensed my presence. I stood and watched it and noticed its beautiful sleek body lying still, alert, present, and then it slithered away towards the pool pump. I walked away with a smile feeling a part of this experience with the natural world. I would have missed it had I not been observant of my surroundings.

I take my dog for a daily walk. Have you ever noticed how dogs thoroughly enjoy their walks? They sniff their way around the neighborhood streets. Eyes are alert, constantly looking around, excited when a possible encounter with another animal, bird or duck (we live near ponds) arises. They are alive with energy. All of their senses are in high gear.

While walking this morning, I noticed the flowering scent of jasmine in the breeze, the sound of the breeze as it whispered through the leaves. I felt the breeze as it blew my hair (and my hat), and could feel its warmth on my skin. I noticed the intricate beauty of the evergreen branches as Yogi marked his presence underneath the tree. I touched their delicate, soft texture. I looked up at the sound of the birds as they fly gracefully over the water. Their long elegant bodies fluid against the blue of the sky.

I don’t think of anything other than what I am experiencing. I’m not thinking about the rest of the day or tomorrow. The walk is what is my life at that time. Being present is forgetting about our life situation for a while, and paying attention to our life. Our life situations are something that exist in time. Our life is always now.

What Is Essential?

I hope you enjoyed the walk. Once it’s over, I engage myself in whatever comes next. Something that helps me to be more present in my own life is a simple question that I repeat to myself throughout the day. It can work in every life situation and is so simple, we often overlook the obvious. What is essential? What is essential right now? What is my task, my purpose, my responsibility at this moment? Am I wasting my time doing some mindless whatever? Am I working on the project that is top priority? Am I procrastinating because I don’t want to perform a certain obligation or duty?

If you’re a visual person and need to see something to remind you, make yourself a few notes to post around the house or on your desk at work. These three words can help us to remain present or get back on track. What is essential? Sometimes I find what is essential is given to me as soon as I ask. Presence.

Meditation and Silence

Meditation can be a manner of being present. It doesn’t have to be sitting lotus-style surrounded by incense and chanting mantras (although it can be), nor does it have to be done in a certain place. Meditation can be taking a conscious deep breath, bringing us back to the present moment. It can be listening to a beautiful song or sitting in a church or hearing the chirping of birds while sitting outside. It can be done while working out on the treadmill or swimming laps or sitting at your desk. Listening to rain or the sounds of nature, wind chimes can be meditation. Meditation connects us with our inner self.

There’s even a way to listen to the silence while in a room full of noise. It takes practice, but it can be done. I had to learn this while working in classrooms full of 20 preschoolers. We live in a world of noise. We have to learn to live with it, to accept it or to move into the country where there are different noises! Noise is sound. When we accept the noise, the sounds around us, we can move into a deeper awareness or familiarity. The sounds are there, but not all encompassing. We can still be aware of our own presence. Whatever we place our focus on becomes what we concentrate on. I can block out the noise by focusing on whatever it is that is my focus at a given time.

Sometimes it’s hard. I like to read on my patio and yet I can only concentrate if my mind isn’t being distracted. If I allow the sound of the air conditioner compressor to distract me, it does (and it does at times!). If my neighbor decides to beat the heat and mow, and edge his lawn and then finish with the blower, it can be very distracting on a quiet morning. How do I find presence in those moments when it’s noisy, but I want to concentrate? Well, I can either move to a quieter place or I can accept the sounds and get back to reading or writing or whatever I’m doing. It requires practice like any other skill we are trying to learn, but it can be done. It’s being in tune with the silence ‘underneath’ the sounds. Another way to express this is focus. We ‘become’ where we place our focus.

Listen to the silence
Listen to the silence | Source

Thoreau Quotes

"I watched a pair of hen-hawks circling high in the sky, alternately soaring and descending, approaching and leaving one another, as if they were the embodiment of my thoughts."

"Every little pine needle expanded and swelled with sympathy and befriended me. I was so distinctly made aware of the presence of something kindred to me..."

"I say, beware of all enterprises that require new clothes, and not rather a new wearer of clothes. If there is not a new man, how can the new clothes be made to fit?"

"All men want, not something to do with, but something to do, or rather, something to be."

Henry David Thoreau


We Can Learn to be Present in All Situations

Presence helps us perform and live with an inner and outer awareness. It helps us to do and perform at our best. Our work will be better, our personal lives can be richer and more rewarding when we are fully present in our relationships. Our own lives become more exciting and alive when we are living in the moment, whatever that moment may be. We can learn to be present in the most difficult of moments and move through them. It is when we focus on the past or the future that we complicate our lives and lose precious quality of life in the present. Life is now. Keys to help stay present and in the moment are:

  • Be observant of our surroundings
  • Senses are in high gear
  • Put the gadgets away (you'll be fine)
  • Ask, ‘what is essential?’
  • Meditate wherever you are
  • Learn to accept the sounds
  • Focus on now
  • Practice, practice, practice

Learn to 'see a song' and 'hear color'... enliven your senses, be present. I will close with something I wrote one beautiful, glorious day out on my patio feeling very present with Life itself on a late Sunday afternoon. Enjoy.

What kind of beauty spreads herself across the sky

The blue of an eye for as wide and high as I can see~

The gentle breeze whispering her content

Of such a glorious breath of now upon now~

The peaceful greens rise to meet the blue

Happily displaying vibrancy of life~

Serenity of being

This celebrated stillness of each new moment being born.

— rebekahELLE

Thank You For Reading and Please Feel Free to Leave a Comment

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    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      6 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Thanks, David! I so appreciate your feedback and taking the time to read and comment. It's one of those hubs that I thoroughly enjoyed writing. I'm so glad you enjoyed it. :)

    • David Stone1 profile image

      David Stone 

      6 years ago from New York City

      Beautifully written. You're reference to The Power of Now was right on from own experience.

      One of the best hubs I've read.

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Thank you hawaiianodysseus. I had a feeling you would enjoy this hub after reading your walking hubs. I usually can't wait to get outside for a nice walk, or even to simply breathe in the fresh air and look up at the sky. I think we spend far too much time inside, sitting and not enjoying one of the most creative ways to exercise, meditate, and experience the wonder of being present in our lives. I know exactly what you mean when you refer to your walks as one huge moment of clarity that is far longer than a moment. Very nice. Thanks for reading and commenting.

    • hawaiianodysseus profile image

      Hawaiian Odysseus 

      8 years ago from Southeast Washington state

      Rebekah, I love what you've shared here. This presence is the embodiment of what I perceive when I am on my long one huge moment of clarity that is far longer than a moment yet not even close to lasting as long. It just is...

      In that state of presence, I see what I wish to achieve as if the goals are already accomplished, and I sense deep connection with everything. Like, everything makes sense and that--with no intent whatsoever to come across as narcissistic--there is a universal movie going on right in front of me that was meant for me to have a very personal and intimate experience with...simply because there were specific answers that I happened to need at that very precise and present moment.

      Know what I mean?

      See you during my next walk...

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Thanks Kenja. I like your username! I'm delighted to hear that you read and enjoyed the visual, mental imagery in this hub. I'm getting ready now to take my dog for a walk, and am excited about what I may discover. I would love to have a chance to visit your meditation group! I'll be visiting more of your hubs as your topics look interesting, and I love your writing style. See you around the hub!

    • Kenja profile image

      Ken Taub 

      8 years ago from Long Island, NY

      Simple, lovely, elegant, Rebekah. Just a great crop of visual clues and reminders. Love it. If you were closer, I'd invite you to our meditation & mindfulness group here on the Island. fondly, Ken

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      8 years ago from Tampa Bay

      It is hard at times, but it's rewarding when we take a breath and remember where we are and what we're doing. Humans can be very much like machines, we just keep going and eventually wear out if we don't take time to rest and recharge and fine tune ourselves. Enjoy the talk, it sounds like material for an informative hub!

    • LetitiaFT profile image


      8 years ago from Paris via California

      Thank you for that reminder. It's so hard to remember, even when like me you have tickets to hear Jon Kabat-Zinn speak on the subject in a couple of weeks!

    • frogyfish profile image


      9 years ago from Central United States of America

      Beautifully given...thank you! Loved that video too and bookmarking your hub to return for a refreshing.

    • profile image


      9 years ago

      Brilliant article, love it

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      9 years ago from Tampa Bay

      Thanks Robin! I'm happy that you found it helpful. Life can get so busy and crazy, it's nice to be reminded of what is essential. Sometimes I have to reread my own hubs to help myself stay focused! I think it's wonderful that you're able to spend quality time with your girls. They grow up so fast!


      @Maralexa, Thanks for the great comment! I love hearing when a hub really hits the spot for someone. I can't think of a better reward. Enjoy your garden!

    • Maralexa profile image

      Marilyn Alexander 

      9 years ago from Vancouver, Canada

      Very refreshing, almost hypnotic in the way your hub soothed my mind. I am going to take a walk in my garden (beautiful this time of year) and just enjoy life. Up and beautiful.

    • Robin profile image

      Robin Edmondson 

      9 years ago from San Francisco

      Wonderful Hub, Rebekah. I love your reminder to yourself throughout the day to be more present by asking what is essential. I am noticing now that my girls are getting older and I feel less stressed by all of the craziness that I need to be more present in the things that we do. They are what is essential in my life. I also love the idea of finding the silence underneath the sounds. Whenever I read Hubs like this it is a great reminder to get back to what I know is true. Thank you!

    • World-Traveler profile image


      10 years ago from USA

      Your writing help to divert me away from a troubling task. It was nice to take a walk with you through your story. Thanks. Voted UP!

    • earnestshub profile image


      10 years ago from Melbourne Australia

      A brilliantly job rebekahELLE.

      You cover this topic gently with kindness and affection. I thumbed it up and clicked the "awesome" button.

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thanks Rik, I appreciate those words.I hope that it can help anyone be more in touch with their own lives and the world around them. nice to see you. :]

    • Rik Ravado profile image

      Rik Ravado 

      10 years ago from England

      This is brilliant - I like the way you aren't dogmatic. This should speak to almost everyone, whatever their faith or beliefs. Very wise and well written!

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thanks lorlie for reading. congrats on the birth of your grandson. I can imagine it must be a wonderful experience! babies have a way of connecting us to that unseen place in each of us. be well on your journey. :]

    • lorlie6 profile image

      Laurel Rogers 

      10 years ago from Bishop, Ca

      Hi rebekahELLE-thanks for letting me know about this hub. I read with great interest and I think since the arrival of my Grandson last Wednesday, I know what you mean! Simply gazing at the little one has given me peace and clarity. He is a new creature and so very pure!

      Wonderful hub!

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thanks for visiting and commenting 2uesday, habee and timorous. I really don't think it's anything new, but more that our world is so noisy and filled, that we forget the awesomeness of what is around us and within us. I like the way Thoreau said it in his Higher Laws essay,

      "The true harvest of my daily life is somewhat as intangible and indescribable as the tints of morning or evening. It is a little star-dust, a segment of the rainbow which I have clutched."

    • timorous profile image

      Tim Nichol 

      10 years ago from Me to You

      Hi rebekahELLE. I totally agree with you. I'm like this most of the time anyway, so it's natural and easy for me to just be aware of myself and my surroundings. Observing the natural world around us brings a relaxed frame of mind, if you just 'stop and smell the roses'. Great hub, and nicely written.

    • habee profile image

      Holle Abee 

      10 years ago from Georgia

      This is new to me, but I like it!

    • 2uesday profile image


      10 years ago

      I agree with what you have written here and I try to practice this so it was nice to read it here described so well by you. Thank you rebekahELLE.

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      10 years ago from Tampa Bay

      hi sweetiepie, thanks for reading. I think we all have to remind ourselves as it's so easy to become lost in our thought world. it's nice to have cues to help bring us back to the present moment. :)

      thanks for reading rafini. I'm glad you enjoyed. something simple, yet can make such a profound difference in the quality of our lives. nice to see you!

    • Rafini profile image


      10 years ago from Somewhere I can't get away from

      That's what I need! To be present! Nice hub - thanks for pointing out what should be obvious to us all but so often isn't.

    • SweetiePie profile image


      11 years ago from Southern California, USA

      Sometimes I have to remind myself to be present in the moment because I have tendency to get wrapped up with my thoughts.

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thanks Pamela for your generous comments, so happy you enjoyed the walk. I'm glad to hear you also receive so much pleasure from nature! I think I could live outside.. sort of. I think that's why I live in Florida! :) thank you for your visit.

      cosette, thank you and you are so welcome. funny, I was just thinking about you and wondered how you are! I've always been a little flower, nature girl. I believe it is here to help us connect with our life. I am reminded of a favorite quote by Margorie Kennan Rawlings," I do not understand how anyone can live without some small place of enchantment to turn to." I know you acknowledge the beauty and stillness of nature as well. thanks! :]

    • profile image


      11 years ago

      ~THANK YOU~ Rebekah for celebrating and acknowledging things most people consider unimportant, when in reality they are profound and quite beautiful. big hugs and UP ratings!

    • Pamela99 profile image

      Pamela Oglesby 

      11 years ago from Sunny Florida

      rebehahelle, I enjoyed the walk with you. I love nature and get much pleasure from flowers, birds and so forth, just appreciating the world around me. Good hub. Rated up!

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thank you winsome. ohh, I like the 'life-whisperer', that's perfect. I feel that way often, kind of hard to explain, but I know you know as you describe it so well.

      someone once explained it to me in the terms of 'being that space' for others and for situations we encounter. :]

      green, thank you! I'm glad you enjoyed the walk. I think when we write what we really know and feel, it communicates so much easier. But alas, sometimes research is necessary for content writing. always a pleasure to see you. :)

    • Green Lotus profile image


      11 years ago from Atlanta, GA

      I loved your hub and your walk RE. You are right about writing from the heart without having to do research. I think our best Hubs are born from that space. Truly in the now. rated up

    • Winsome profile image


      11 years ago from Southern California by way of Texas

      Very nice Rebekah, I sometimes see myself as a "life-whisperer"--it will take you as far as you let it and as deep into it as you are willing to see. =:)

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thank you raisingme, I certainly agree with your words. I think being 'absent' actually is being so intensely present that an uncomfortable person or situation doesn't bother us. we can exercise immense freedom as we practice presence. thanks so much for sharing!

      darlene,thanks. I'm glad you enjoyed reading. I hope it can inspire! there's so much to experience in everyday life if we simply 'show up' with our whole beings. :)

    • Darlene Sabella profile image

      Darlene Sabella 

      11 years ago from Hello, my name is Toast and Jam, I live in the forest with my dog named Sam ...

      Wow, very nice, I loved reading your hub and your are so right, many people never see the miracles that are around every corner. It's like walking through a doorway, thank you and thumbs up

    • raisingme profile image


      11 years ago from Fraser Valley, British Columbia

      Great Hub! Presence is a vital fundamental for the living of life. Practicing both both your presence and your absence allows you to be in control of who and what you desire to be present with who and what you wish you to absent yourself from. Got to go light on practicing absence though, we have already had too of being absent in our own lives and in the lives of those we profess to care about and love. The ability to come and go as you please is freedom. Well Done!

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Tampa Bay

      thank you D.G. I will have to listen to the song. that's awesome that you had it in the back of your mind while reading. I appreciate your comment, thanks for reading.

      De Greek, what a very nice compliment. It's certainly one that speaks from my heart and required no research. I think those are often our best. thanks for reading! :]

    • De Greek profile image

      De Greek 

      11 years ago from UK

      I have a feelling that this might be the best hubfrom you yet :-D

    • D.G. Smith profile image

      D.G. Smith 

      11 years ago

      loved this article

      love the article

      I thought of an old James Taylor song while I was reading your work ,"A walking man Walks" the tune played in the back ground of my mind as I read.

    • rebekahELLE profile imageAUTHOR


      11 years ago from Tampa Bay

      lxxy, thanks for reading and commenting. so much of mankind is so far removed from their own selves. I respect those who are in touch with their inner life. I seem to be able to tell as they are always much more tolerant of others. I see this in you! thanks for being my first visitor leaving a comment. :)

      hey jewels, always nice to see you and thanks for stopping by!

      phillip, thanks for sharing. I know from your writings you are a very 'present' person. anyone reading your poetry can feel you are writing from a deep place of presence. I believe much of our great art and music and philosophy comes from those who were/are deeply in touch with a place of awareness. I think that is why some songs or paintings or buildings, etc. so deeply inspire us. The great philosophers still inspire us. I am not religious, but have always gravitated towards a deeper way of life. There is much to discover. thanks for sharing, nice to see you.

      mentalist, what a very interesting statement, and I can certainly see why this would be true. having worked with young children with hyperactivity issues, we found that short periods of simple breathing exercises and gentle yoga moves helped the children to calm themselves. thanks for stopping by and sharing.

    • Mentalist acer profile image

      Mentalist acer 

      11 years ago from A Voice in your Mind!

      I have to live in a perpetual state of meditive presense to deal with hyper-active dementia. This leads to a calm body and a intense focus...

    • profile image

      philip carey 61 

      11 years ago

      Lots to say about this one. I've spent years of my life with exploratory thoughts along these lines. First of all, great hub. As usual, your writing is clear and flows nicely.

      Presence is the foundation of Buddhism, as well as many schools of Hinduism. Presence is what gives actuality to the moment. Awareness might be a more apt term, as distinguished from 'consciousness'. Consciousness is always 'of something' , but Awareness precedes even that. Awareness is the witness of the "I" thought--Parabrahman, as the Upanishads would say. We are, in fact, the space between the objects of consciousness.

      I got a huge smile reading this and knowing that you think along these lines, or are exploring them.

      Two people in particular have influenced my thinking when it comes to this. One is Ramana Maharshi; the other is Sri Nisargadatta--both from India, and no longer alive.

      Check either out for a serious treatment of this profound concept.


    • Jewels profile image


      11 years ago from Australia

      Great hug RebekahELLE

    • lxxy profile image


      11 years ago from Beneath, Between, Beyond


      I hobby around with astral projection, lucid dreaming, and remote viewing. Part of learning to partake in many of these journeys include lots of meditation.

      Even without these types of hobbies, it's a wonderful experience to listen to your own thoughts.


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