Cultivating Presence Today for a Fulfilled Tomorrow

In

Doro Bush Koch and Tricia Reilly Koch

Life is a continuum. With time, come shifts. The caterpillar shares the same DNA as the butterfly it turns into, but they look very different. What brings us fulfillment at one stage of our life may look very different from what we pursue at another stage. 

Life can be richer as we get older. For many, especially those who find themselves no longer living in the shadows of their children’s lives, our 60s are about redefining ourselves. And with that process comes a new awareness of — and questioning of —  purpose. Consider the final lines in the curious and observant poem “The Summer Day” by Mary Oliver: “Tell me, what is it you plan to do with your one wild and precious life?” 

It may seem daunting or even challenging to consider purpose when we are transitioning out of familiar roles, be that as parents or in our professional lives. Change can cause discomfort, but it can also create space if we perceive it as an opportunity. 

Studies show that a sense of purpose is crucial to one’s happiness and sense of well-being. We need to know that we are here for a reason.  

If the notion of purpose presents you with a quandary, mindful practices can help. It’s important not to just will ourselves into actions we think we should take but rather to slow down and check in with inner teachers. When was the last time you asked yourself where you really are? 

There are many avenues to get to answers. And remember, the answers will shift over time, so it’s good to regularly schedule an appointment with these strategies. 

1. Find your way back to nature 

Even if you are not the type to strap on hiking boots, spending a least a few minutes every day mindfully walking a path or sitting in a spot and observing nature can help you feel grounded and give you new perspective. Listening to birdsong has proven to improve mood and mental alertness. If you’re ready to go further, look into forest bathing — a more immersive experience of sitting in and being present to nature. 

2. Cultivate a gratitude practice 

The more we focus on being grateful for what we have, the easier it is to remain positive and to let go of regrets. Try a gratitude journal where you write down one thing each day you are grateful for or make a list that you add to every time you think of something. Consider your language and spend more time thanking people out loud, even replacing apologies with thanks for understanding. When we shift our mindset to gratitude, our compassion extends to others and to ourselves. 

3. Prioritize the things that make your heart sing 

Do you find tremendous joy in attending art museums or sporting events? Dancing, writing, or walking along the beach? List at least five things you have loved and think about the last time you did them. If the idea still gives you tingles, find a way to put it on the calendar. When you have connected to something that feels deeply nourishing, you will have an easier time tapping into your inner wisdom. 

Once you have tried on one or more of these practices, you will be in a good position to have patience with yourself as you sit quietly and ask those probing questions about what matters to you and how you want to matter in the world.  

There will never be a right or wrong answer that will be true for all time. There will be what is true now. Mindfulness teaches us to live in the present. Focusing on who we are right now helps us to let go of the grip of nostalgia or worries about our future.  

Creating time to tune in and listen to today’s truth will help you take whatever is the next right step to live a purposeful life. 

The Summer Day by Mary Oliver 

Who made the world? 

Who made the swan, and the black bear? 

Who made the grasshopper? 

This grasshopper, I mean— 

the one who has flung herself out of the grass, 

the one who is eating sugar out of my hand, 

who is moving her jaws back and forth instead of up and down— 

who is gazing around with her enormous and complicated eyes. 

Now she lifts her pale forearms and thoroughly washes her face. 

Now she snaps her wings open, and floats away. 

I don’t know exactly what a prayer is. 

I do know how to pay attention, how to fall down 

into the grass, how to kneel down in the grass, 

how to be idle and blessed, how to stroll through the fields, 

which is what I have been doing all day. 

Tell me, what else should I have done? 

Doesn’t everything die at last, and too soon? 

Tell me, what is it you plan to do 

with your one wild and precious life? 

Growing Bolder contributors Doro Bush Koch and Tricia Reilly Koch are sisters-in-law who founded the wellness company BB&R, Bright, Bold and Real  over a decade and a half ago with a very clear goal: to share with others what they’ve learned about mindfulness and holistic living with the intention that everyone begin to live their best life.  Learn more about their retreats, workshops, courses and popular Health Gig podcast on their website.

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