How to become more present in your life.
Do you find yourself often consumed in your thoughts and day to day worries? Do you find yourself talking on the phone while driving? Or do you forget to enjoy the food or meal you are eating? Do you feel you are more stressed about job, family, finances, home than you are focused on the moment and enjoying the present? Do you want to enjoy life more? Do you want to improve your productivity? Do you want to take in and fully take advance all the wonderful things life has for you? (Friends, family, adventures, etc). The ability to be present and stay in the here in now is key to increasing overall happiness and enjoyment of life, as well as enhances your gratitude of what is in your life, versus what is not in your life. Increased mindfulness and awareness has been linked to decreased feelings of depression, anxiety and overall stress. The following list are simple and feasible ways to help your increase your ability to stay present and in the moment at (almost) every turn.
Awareness. Awareness is the first and most essential step. You cannot be present without the awareness that you struggle with preoccupation of other things in life. Awareness allows you to be more in touch with what is going on for you; what and why you’re distracted and when to redirect your attention back to the now. Awareness helps you take the information to the next level. Awareness is a state of being. Have the intention to try and become more aware of where your mind is, in order to bring it back to the present.
Downsize. We are a society full of multi-taskers. You have likely found yourself studying or paying bills while eating dinner, texting on your phone while pushing your child on the swings, or reading the paper with the television on, etc. It’s rather natural these days for most of us to do more than one thing at once, it’s almost difficult not to. However, it’s difficult to fully complete a task thoroughly and entirely while allow yourself to be pulled in another direction. Your mind and body isn’t fully invested and focused on one task at hand, your focus is split. This isn’t the fastest way to get things done but it’s the most efficient. You will have fewer distractions andless temptation to be pulled away from the moment at hand.
Use your senses. Other than awareness, using all of your senses to experience your day helps you be more present. This includes paying attention to the sights, sounds, touch and smells around you. This also includes paying attention to your experiences: do you feel hot, do you feel energized or relaxed For example, what is your reaction to the wind against your face? House does wind influence your mood?
One example of practicing using your senses while eating, otherwise known as mindfulness To do so, eat a meal alone without any distractions. No television, no phone, no reading? Make yourself a meal or a take a bowl of cereal and sit down at your table alone, distraction free. Take your time and focus on each bite of food you take. What does each bite taste like? What’s the feeling of the food like on your tongue? What sounds are you taking in? Are they sounds from the food? Are the sounds from outside through your opened window? Does the texture of the food change as you continue to eat? Which textures are most pleasing, if any to you? Are you getting full? How can you tell? Can you feel the food going down your throat? Or being in your stomache? What other physical sensations can you identify? How do your emotions influence your desire for the food?
Take Inventory. Carve out a few minutes either at the end of the day or the beginning of the day, and list a few appreciations you have of that present day. List of daily appreciation. If you want more balance to your inventory, you can instead each day identify your high and low (one positive thing you experienced today and one negative). It’s not only a way to remind yourself of the gifts and challenges we all face daily, but also a great way to challenge your focus and memory. Maybe today you realized what you really appreciated was something small and usually forgettable, but in the end doing your inventory helped that small moment stay with you.
Five minutes of nothing. This is an especially difficult task for many. Downtime, and especially alone time is difficult to come by these days for most people. This five minutes allows your mind and body to rest, and allows you to just be. It’s different than a nap, because it’s not you shutting off from the world, it’s you stopping to be in the moment without a task. Challenge yourself to become comfortable with silence and being still, and being fully present with yourself and meditating. To those who struggle with this concept it might simply feel like ‘doing nothing’.
Just breathe. Whether you combine this in your five minutes of doing nothing, or you do this throughout the day as it comes to you, breathing is a great way to reset your mind and give your brain more oxygen. Breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, then try breathing in and out through your nose. See which one feels better to you. Focus on the breathe going back out, focus on what happens to your stomach as it fills with air on the exhale, and as you exhale, imagine you are pushing out the negative thoughts and negative weight that has been sitting inside you.
Redirect your thoughts. No matter how skillful you are at being present, it is natural and normal to get caught up in outside distractions and thoughts. When this happens, simply recognize it for what it is for five seconds, then let it go. tell yourself it’s okay to let it go and that you are going to go back to focusing on the moment at hand. This a popular meditation and mindfulness technique that is great for all levels of meditation practitioners. You will find the frequency of redirecting your thoughts will vary, it may depend on the day or even the time of day. It’s a great skill to work on. Can you give some specific ways to redirect your thoughts (I am looking for a solid paragraph on this ). And what about giving someone a few more suggestions from your above list to try to stay present.
Here at the Center for Growth in Philadelphia we prefer realistic and feasible goals: Being present is something to strive for and work on gradually, as you go. The goal is not to become so present and zen that you end up spending three months in an ashram in India. We all wear multiple hats. We are mothers, fathers, bosses, full time and part-time professionals, siblings, and caretakers, with a million other things going on in our lives. We are a society full of multitasking, instant gratification, and at times unrealistic expectations. We are flooded by technology, busy schedules, and more. This is tip is simply a suggestion and encouragement to redirect your focus more often away from the self-doubt, the smart-phones, the calendar, and more on the beautiful weather, your kids playing in the backyard, or the dinner your partner made for you. You can’t control the future, there is only so much you can plan for, and there is only so much productivity worry can do for you. You can only control the here and now, so stay in it and enjoy it while it’s here.