Every month on Byrdie, best-selling author, licensed psychotherapist, and Dr. Oz Show beauty expert, Nikki Walton will be talking all things inner-beauty—helping you recognize, love, and be the best version of yourself, now. Submit your questions to her DM’s on Instagram @curlynikki.
Question: I’ve read many books on the importance of staying in the present moment. I meditate and I know the techniques, but it’s really hard to practice or even to remember to practice when things are hectic. I would like to be able to stay mindful all day and experience the benefits of more stability and peace. Help!
If we were sitting on the beach together right now (six feet a part), chatting it up, you’d frequently forget to "hear" the waves. The ocean sounds would just fade to the background as the tea got goodt. But they’re still present. Similarly, this peace you’re looking for is in the background of every moment, always. All you have to do is remember to feel for it and stay feeling it like your life depends on it—because your best life does.
Mindfulness is often where many of us start our journey to awakening. This moment-to-moment awareness or witnessing of outer and inner experience is a beautiful, and necessary practice. But in my opinion, it doesn’t "stabilize" until you feel what’s actually stable behind and beyond those moments. You can’t stay mindful until you become heart-full!
There’s a common and unchanging background present, whether you’re standing at the kitchen table, sunbathing on your balcony, or sitting on the toilet. In each of those passing moments you can choose to be aware of the decadent taste of the Oreo(s) in your mouth and thoughts of your next quarantine snack, the warmth on your face as you worry if your new sunscreen is actually effective, or the chilliness of the tile under your feet while you contemplate the toilet paper shortage. Or you can take it a step further, and stay aware of the quiet-joy that’s always present, behind and absolutely pervading each of those moments and their corresponding thoughts. Your thoughts, sensations, and surroundings are always changing, but something in the background is not. Let’s call it Presence. Staying consciously aware of this background Presence is a lesser known, yet super-effective practice called Heartfulness.
One of my favorite teachers, Joel Goldsmith, wrote a book called Practicing the Presence: The Inspirational Guide to Regaining Meaning and a Sense of Purpose in Your Life. It turns mindfulness on its head, taking it deeper into the heart. Instead of just practicing awareness of the fleeting, transient, foreground appearances (which include thoughts, emotions, and even the body you take yourself to be), you practice the awareness of the background Presence. You practice recognizing the space that life is happening in. You keep your attention on the strip instead of the lashes, on the palette instead of the shades. You keep your attention in the Heart while life does its thang.
As you become aware of this background fully, you are full of peace, which leaves no room for your racing thoughts, worries or fear. Presence replaces your dysfunction—your dysfunction was only the absence of your Presence! So the work, your joy, is to keep some awareness on the fullness behind the scenes. In this practice, you find that you are always already mindful, but only because you became "heart-full"—or full of Presence—first.
Heartfulness is real self-love; it’s confidence; it is the peace that passes all understanding. It’s a freedom that’s totally accessible to you here and now. Step into it, and abide.
Standing with you in and as love,
Check out Nikki’s podcast, New Growth, where she welcomes headlining guests to explore Divine Love as the key to spiritual growth, empowered service, and inner and outer success. Subscribe on iTunes here.