As I sit in Marrekech airport waiting for my delayed plane back to Gatwick, I have time to reflect upon my week. I have just completed my first ever yoga retreat. Considering yoga and I have had a tempestuous relationship, this was somewhat of an accomplishment. I have always been incredibly fond of yoga, and it has been part of my life for more years than I can remember.
I wanted to challenge myself with being present, really present for two hours at a time, twice a day on my yoga mat. How hard could that really be, I mean people do it all the time, right?
Now I am someone, like many of you, that is constantly glued to my iPhone or iPad or laptop or…..the list goes on. And if I’m not checking emails, responding to this or that, then I am probably thinking about it. Does this resonate?
As I arrived at my retreat, the first words out of my mouth was ‘ do you have the wifi code please’ there I stand, in a beautiful Moroccan retreat about 40 minutes out of Marrakech in the middle of nowhere, and my first thought is the wifi code…..seriously?
A very quick change and it was time for my first yoga practice. Feeling a little nervous I entered the room…..it was just me and one other lady……just us…..two strangers seemingly there because we have a love of yoga and the need to be away from the rat race.
Hundreds of thoughts flooded my mind, and I was incredibly conscious of the busy-ness that was occupying my brain…..I was allowing myself to have so many conversations that I certainly wasn’t present and certainly wasn’t going to have a particularly life changing session while all the noise was happening.
After this first lesson I felt energised and already felt I’d accomplished something…..maybe it was just the fact that I had showed up and had been physically present….well it’s a start.
As the week went on, and the yoga sessions continued, I began to take time to prepare myself for my session, to focus and to think about what it was I wanted to gain….what did I want to feel, think, do in the two hours where it was me and my mat? I found myself being present for some of the time, other times my mind wandered and I suddenly realised I was thinking about an email id forgotten to reply to, or a friends birthday that I had missed. Once I was able to become aware of the distraction, I was then able to take a breath and let it go for those moments I was focusing on my practise.
So, what has this got to do with presentations or any form of communicating to a group or even one other person? Well, how many times do you have multiple thoughts whilst you are in the middle of presenting or talking? The inner dialogue can often be incredibly loud and very disruptive. It can knock you off balance, you can lose your flow, you can even have that moment where you lack confidence and belief in what you are delivering. So how would it be if you could be present, truly present with your mat? Or in your case, your audience? What has to happen to allow that to be the case?
Maybe it’s time to think about taking a few minutes before you go into that board meeting or make that important phone call, walk up onto that stage, or whatever form of communication it might be….just take a few moments to still your mind, to take a breath and to really focus on what it is you want to get from this interaction. What do YOU want? How would YOU like to feel? How would YOU like to be received?
We are very good at thinking about our key messages or our call to action, and they are important of course, but maybe, just maybe, by beginning with YOU and where you are mentally, physically and emotionally, you will go even further in your quest to be an effective and confident communicator in whatever setting you may find yourself because you have chosen to be present, completely present for those moments. Challenge yourself…..I dare you.