In the constant rush of trying to pack 48 hours of activity into a 24-hour day, the first thing we tend to ignore is ‘taking time’ to be present to our life.
Noticing something new on your usual path to work; taking a moment to enjoy the scent and structure of a beautiful flower; becoming aware of the flow of your breath or savouring the taste of your morning coffee, sip by sip – these are ways to bring your attention to the present.
What is the Present Moment?
Guidance about being present tells us that we need to embrace the now, let go of the past and stop worrying about the future. Everything is impermanent and change is inevitable. The only reality is the present moment where our mindset is absent of emotion, comparison, and judgment. In the present moment, we are invited to look beyond thought, beyond our inner self-focus and see ourselves as part of a greater whole. ‘Now’ is a state of noticing and accepting ‘what is’ and ‘whatever is happening’ with an observer’s eye.
Mindfulness brings more clarity, calmness, and positivity into life. Simply giving every molecule of attention to what is directly in front of you moves you magically into a space where you can:
· let go of fear and self-consciousness,
· respond more thoughtfully instead of reacting,
· complete tasks more efficiently because of a singular focus,
· remain balanced amidst life’s unpredictability,
· sleep more restfully,
· experience less anxiety and drama,
· become more playful and childlike (think Dalai Lama!),
· dispense with past problems and quiet future ‘what if’s’,
· appreciate the healing and calm of the natural world,
· be more gentle and compassionate with self and others,
· feel more gratitude, joy and inner peace,
· begin to trust your insight and intuition,
· make an authentic contribution to the world as you see clearly who you are without the clutter of your thoughts
· open to the limitlessness of all abundance that is possible without restriction.
According to Ellen Langer, psychologist and author of Mindfulness, ‘Overriding the distraction reflex and awakening to the present takes intentionality and practice.’ Here are a few tips to help establish new behaviours that generate presence:
Let go of the past –realise that every experience is a learning event not an indictable offence.
Unhook from worry about the future – let your breath and meditative practices quiet the thoughts that rob your attention to right now.
Focus on whatever you are doing fully and completely – if you are walking, notice the sights, sounds and feel of your feet on the path.
Become the unselfconscious participant in activities – silence your own self-critical evaluation by focusing only on what you are doing.
Appreciate moments – make time every day for quiet moments, lift your face to the sun’s warmth, become part of a beautiful piece of music, savour the smell and taste of delicious food.
Follow Your Breath – your breath is by its nature a present moment reality. Focusing on the in breath and out breath immediately invites attention to the now.
Lose track of time – Define your goals and become fully absorbed in them. Focus only on the next step regardless of what else is going on around you.
Cultivate Beginners Mind – become mindful of your surroundings and challenge yourself to notice something new even in familiar places and situations.
Embrace ‘Nothing Next’ –become the witness of your life without any need for the next thing. Simply allow each moment to exist.
Being present is not simply a switch that you turn on but rather, it is a process of developing longer and longer periods of mindfulness as you intentionally practice to become more aware and awake in your life. Like any habit you want to embrace, living in the present moment can eventually become your default inner setting.
Try this simple present moment exercise:
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