"The stream of thinking has enormous momentum that can easily drag you along with it. Every thought pretends that it matters so much. It wants to draw your attention completely." -Eckhart Tolle
What is presence and why is it important?
Presence is simply being here now.
Presence is giving your attention to whatever task you are engaged in at the moment. Meaning, if you are in conversation, you are focusing your attention on that. You are not talking and simultaneously thinking about past/future/your response.
Presence is important because it keeps our energy unified and opens the doorway to inner stillness and ultimately empowered action.
Think about it.
Aren't you better able to respond when you are paying attention? If someone is speaking to you and your mind is wandering, will you give your best answer? Probably not.
How do you practice presence?
Like anything else you want to improve on, you must practice :)
Anything that helps you be here now, with your attention focused on what you are "doing" is a practice.
Meditation is one of my favorites because it teaches how to discipline the mind. When you are able to discipline your mind, you can shift your attention away from constant thought, especially those that cause more suffering. In meditation you bring awareness back to your breath or another "mantra". Over time, you experience gap between thoughts or periods of no thinking. In this space, you access stillness/hear your inner voice.
Insights and choices arise that were once blocked when caught in endless thought.
Practice being quiet, being still, and allow more space to emerge in your life.
Meditate, walk in the woods in silence, sit and listen to the birds, give yourself time in between tasks on your to-do list and if your to-do list is never ending, reduce it.
Disconnect from the phone/TV while you eat. Taste your food. Allow space to emerge.
You don't have to go on a silent retreat for 10 days to learn how to be present. You can do it in your daily life with anything your are doing. In fact, it's quite fun being around people and practicing staying present instead of getting lost in thought/emotion of situation. See if you can simply be the witness...