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Give the Gift of Presence

I was in Chicago over Thanksgiving and made the mistake of going to Whole Foods right before Turkey day.  It was totally packed.  They were playing loud, upbeat music and people were running over us in their carts.  Everyone was rushing.  I felt stressed!

It’s easy to get caught up in the rush over the holidays.  Many of us have to multi-task to get everything done.  I’ve often noticed that when I’m rushing, I’m not really present.  I’m just focused on getting things done and being as productive as possible.  That feeling is a constant pushing against time, the present moment itself.  It’s exhausting.  We’re not really home when we rush.  We cannot be present and rush at the same time.

With rushing comes striving, pushing, tension .. feeling unease. It produces a state of consciousness that often comes about when we’re feeling anxious.  It’s a lack of willingness to be in the present moment.

Ever notice how rushing implies a feeling of lack?  A lack of time, a lack of permission, a lack of space in the present moment .. even a lack of space within ourselves.

Why do we rush?

  1. It’s habitual: Rushing is our MO. We get a “rush” from rushing. It’s unconscious and can be addictive.  To see why it’s habitual, read on.
  2. To avoid:  We don’t want to feel our real feelings, or deal with our stuff. Constant movement is a distraction to deeper, underlying feelings that cause us dis-ease and discomfort.
  3. Self-importance:  We fear other people’s judgments and perceptions of us.  When we constantly exude a sense of urgency, we feel valuable in the eyes of others.
  4. We’re busy:  Some things we have to do, especially if we’re juggling multiple responsibilities.  However, we unnecessarily fill up our time because we want to feel needed and productive. We value doing over being.
  5. We feel unworthy: We tie our inherent self-worth to achievement, doing and productivity.  We feel guilty when we slow down.  We feel unworthy if we’re not doing something.
  6. Competition & control:  We feel that if we slow down, we’ll get run down and everyone will move ahead of us.  We want to be first.  We feel like we have to do everything, or life will fall apart.
  7. We’re lazy: It’s easier to rush through life and be on automatic, than to slow down and make a conscious effort to be present.  Being present takes energy and intention.  Rushing allows us to live on the surface rather than go deep.
  8. We feel pressure:  We feel a constant pressure to perform.  This can come from the voice of our parents or society, where we feel we need “to do” in order to “be loved.”  We feel the need to hurry up and cram everything in, in order to feel worthy of love.  This can come from people pleasing and the need to prove ourselves.
  9. False perception:  The idea that the grass is greener somewhere else.  The next moment is better than now.  We feel like we’re missing opportunities by slowing down.

It helps to know why we’re rushing.  A good question to ask is “What’s the rush?” or “Why do I need to rush right now?

Knowing what is causing us to push alleviates the pressure that comes from rushing.  If you don’t know, you can simply stop.  Stop and take a breath.  Invite some space in.  Acknowledge to yourself, “I know I’m rushing right now,” and invite yourself back to the present moment.  It’s a good time to practice self-compassion, and compassion for others who are cutting you off on the freeway!

To be present is to fully inhabit the moment.. to slow down and pay attention to everything around us.  Letting go of the inner rush allows us to experience higher states, like joy, connection and love.  It takes courage to live inside the moment.

Our presence is an amazing gift.  It happens when we slow down and find inner stillness.  Our loved ones feel it, we feel it, and it’s what makes us truly alive.

This season, I’m wishing you all a safe, un-rushed, happy holiday!

With love,


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