NO TIME LIKE THE PRESENT
FROM MEDITATION TO BEING THANKFUL FOR THE LITTLE THINGS, THESE FIVE TRICKS WILL HELP YOU LIVE IN THE MOMENT
We all have jobs and to-do lists, regrets about the past and worries about the future, but we owe it to ourselves to spend more time in the moment.
When we become present in the right here and right now we feel a deep appreciation for our existence. If only for a second, we escape the thoughts and judgments of our minds and really live. Then the question becomes: how can we stay present for longer? Try the techniques below to keep yourself out of your head and in the moment where you belong.
1. BECOME AWARE OF YOUR BREATH
We inhale and exhale all day without thinking about it. Breathing is so automatic that we forget how useful it can be as a gateway to the present moment. Observe your mind for any length of time while consciously controlling your breathing and you will see that the breath is intimately connected to the stream of thoughts that run through your mind. When in the midst of a stressful situation, bring your attention to the breath and count how long it takes to inhale and exhale. Purposefully breathe slower and deeper, inhale for four seconds and exhale for four seconds. Do this for a minute and you will be calmer, more grounded and better able to handle the situation at hand.
2. MEDITATE THROUGHOUT THE DAY
There is a misconception that meditation is only beneficial when practised for long periods of time. So many people miss out on its benefits because they don’t have the time for daily hour-long sessions. The truth is, meditation doesn’t require hour-long sessions or a tranquil environment. You can practice it anytime, anywhere, and you do this by becoming conscious of your breathing. Rest your attention on the gentle rising and falling of your chest and away from any tension that may be residing in your body. This time, don’t try and control your breathing – let it flow.
3. PUT THE PHONE DOWN
Smartphones and tablets are wonderful things but they are often serious obstacles to residing in the present moment. Not only do they split our attention between many things at once, which aggravates our stress levels, but they also block us from deepening our connection to the people who physically surround us. Make a decision to turn your phone off at mealtimes, or during a certain time of the day, so that you can appreciate the natural stillness of life.
4. STOP JUDGING YOURSELF
It may be hard to believe, but thoughts are actually painless – it is the emotional judgments behind the thoughts that cause us to suffer. By becoming mindful of our thoughts and our automatic reactions to them, we can begin to diffuse the emotional connection. When we can observe our thoughts impersonally we will see them for what they are – imaginary fakes, for the most part. Become the witness of your own thought stream and stop judging yourself for its contents. Most of it was programmed unconsciously and has nothing to do with you as a person.
5. CULTIVATE GRATITUDE
We have the ability, at any moment, to view our lives through the lens of gratitude. We can say “thank you” to the small, simple things that make our lives infinitely richer, such as a hug from our children, or that early morning coffee. By learning to use gratitude in this way we retrain our brains away from rumination on the past and fear of the future to appreciate what we have in the moment.