The Power Of Presence

Time is our most precious commodity, and the greatest gift we could give—not only to others but also to ourselves. As a human race, the biggest threat we face with time is our ability—or inability—to live in the present moment.

“What's present right now in the moment is all that actually exists. The future isn't created yet and the past is gone,” said veteran, former Navy SEAL, and founder of Heroes And Horses, Micah Fink, as he sat on an old wooden stool and spoke to us with passionate conviction. A man who has spent the greater part of his life giving his time to others, Micah’s take on living authentically in the present moment is spoken with a gritty realness that only a cowboy can exude. His mantras were not learned from the pages of self-help books but rather forged from the experiences he gained from growing up in the Catskills, serving in the military, and dedicating his life to Heroes And Horses, his nonprofit in Montana that helps combat veterans suffering from PTSD.

In the fast-moving culture of today that forces the world to constantly anticipate tomorrow, Micah reminds us to slow down and appreciate the moments we are given now. “Being present is really a gift. It's a gift that we have failed to unbox for our own life. And it's a gift where we free ourselves of worry, anxiety, and projections by being right here, right in the center of this moment of your life, and not projecting forward. Time is right here, right now. And the opportunities that you're searching for, you already have.”

The projections Micah refers to are caused by “living in a perpetual state of trying to become a thing”—trying to become something other than what we currently are. And by trying to become something other, “we’re projecting what we want the outcomes of our life to be in the future—and that prevents us from seeing what's happening in the now.” It is that strange phenomena that occurs when the mind wanders but the body appears to remain present, two different sensations that Micah finds to be intrinsically linked. “The body is the subconscious mind. If your mind is somewhere else, your body is also there physiologically. Where the mind goes, the body follows with it. If someone is really worried about their next opportunity, the body physiologically files. And that causes us to age, it causes us to go into a state of entropy because we are nervous about what is going to happen. And that's what creates these physiological responses.”

This is a similar concept, Micah explains, to how memories are connected to experiences. One might not remember a mundane event, while an event that produced a strong physical response would likely be remembered. “Emotions and experiences are tied hand-in-hand. We control our physical state with the place that our minds live at. If we're always living in the future, then our emotional and physical states are always in chaos because we have no evidence to support what's going to happen in the future. That's why being present is so critical.” The conviction in his voice stirs the realization that when we miss out on a present moment in favor of anxieties surrounding a future one, there is no getting that moment back.

So, how do we stop missing the beauty of life’s everyday moments caused by living in a perpetual state of projection? Micah’s profound advice is rooted in his values of honesty and authenticity. “I always tell people, ‘The only job that you have in your life is to wake up and be yourself, that's it. And when you present that to the world, you are enough. You are enough, just the way that you are.’” Instead of giving attention to things you cannot control, like the way other people perceive you or what will happen tomorrow, spend that energy focusing on yourself. Otherwise, you will have “missed all the opportunities of the present moment. But if you just wake up and do your job, which is to just be yourself, whatever that is, there is a beauty that gets unlocked that can't be purchased. It can't be learned. It can't be taught. And it's the beauty of really loving yourself by being in the present moment.”

This notion of living authentically in the present is the message Micah brings to his work at Heroes And Horses as he helps veterans redefine and rediscover their life’s purpose without the use of prescription drugs or traditional psychotherapy. Instead, he offers veterans an alternative solution to take back ownership of their lives. And it all starts with beginning each day being present in the early morning. “The morning routine is something very powerful in the organization. Everybody wakes up at 4:30 in the morning, they walk a mile down to where we have our main ranch area, and then they'll meditate, workout, do breathwork, get into an ice tank, and then they'll get dressed and get ready to start the day.” This daily morning ritual allows them to not only be present with the start of the new day, but also gives them the chance to spend time with themselves, something Micah thinks we could all benefit from. “Those modalities that we use [at Heroes And Horses], people can take and can create their own. It's just ways to spend time with yourself. That's what it really is.” Although his tone is casual and humble, his experiences and successes, both in the Navy and at Heroes And Horses, prove the truthfulness of his words and the wisdom behind his modesty.

As we continue to go through life’s journey, it can be easy to get lost in the weeds of our everyday anxieties and to-do lists. But as Micah reminds us, “time is accelerating and we have to really realize that we're here for just a very, very short time. Don't waste it doing something that you really don't like.” In today’s culture where we are faced with overwhelming external pressures on a daily basis, Micah’s outlook is an inspiration. Instead of moving from one moment to the next without fully experiencing anything, his message for the world is to pause and lean into the opportunities that arise when we live in the present moment and honor who we are. “There's a freedom and an honesty that comes with being comfortable with yourself, that it’s almost like people gravitate towards you. You're out there. You're doing it. You're not afraid to fail. And life begins to open up for you. It is such a beautiful opportunity that we have to be here and to explore this beautiful garden of a planet.” Let’s not waste another moment of it.

Learn more about Heroes And Horses

Follow Micah Fink on Instagram: @threefold_world

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