Th`k: How to live in the moment and be more present
Many spiritual and religious traditions talk about the human tendency to spend too much time outside of the present moment. According to a Harvard University study, we spend almost fifty percent of the time we are awake not thinking about what we are doing. So what are we thinking about instead?
Don’t lose this moment, searching for another.
We either ruminate about things that happened in the past or we worry about the future. Future thoughts can center around fantasies of negative outcomes; however, they can also come from a hyper-focus on our ambitions. As it goes; dream, but don’t make dreams your master.
Fixating on the past or future is not only time-consuming, it also evokes emotions that may cause unnecessary pain. It is clear why awareness of the present moment is necessary to maintain wellness.
So how do we live in the present moment? If you find yourself lost in mental chatter, there are ways to break out and back into the present narrative. These are often simple techniques that take just a bit of discipline.
-Watching the breath and how the body and our emotions react to it. Watching thoughts and how they come and go.
Feeling the inner body
-Most of our bodily processes go completely on autopilot. An effective escape from the immersion in all kinds of thinking patterns is focusing. You can look at the tightness of the muscles, for example, or focus on the digestive system. The inner body is a very lively place. Keeping focus on the liveliness keeps you in the now and makes you calmer.
-Touch is another way to get rid of the maelstrom of thought. There are different ways to do this. One could be as simple as sitting in a chair and feeling your physical presence in the chair. Another method could be fidgeting with an object in your hand, focusing on how this feels in your palm and fingers. This can be integrated into your routine through examples such as washing your hands or brushing your teeth. Sometimes we aren’t mindful of routine activities because our thoughts are somewhere else.
-A mantra is a sound, that could be sacred in nature and could also consist of a word or several words. Affirming mantras can empower positive thoughts and feelings while bringing you into the present moment. The most basic mantra is “ohmmm…” which they call the source of all mantras in Hinduism. A mantra could also be a sentence such as “I am here, I am loving, I feel gratitude”. A mantra can also be as simple as repeating your name to yourself, bringing you further into your present being.
Waiting for your next thought
-This process is incredibly simple, yet surprisingly effective. The only thing you have to do is become conscious of your thoughts. Then ask yourself; “what is my next thought?” When you focus on the anticipation of your next thought; something magical may happen.
Awareness of silence
-If you listen closely, you will realize that the world is never truly silent. There may be sounds of traffic in the distance, birds, or the wind. Even in a soundproof room, there will still be the sound of your breath and heartbeat. You can become more aware of the sophisticated sounds of the environment. The mind becomes more curious about what’s going on in the distance and will focus its attention on discovering silence in subtlety.
Listening closely to words
-This practice works for social anxiety as well. Dr. Jordan Peterson proposes this practice to overcome the fear of talking to people. By listening closely to what people have to say, you basically shift your attention from your thoughts to the person speaking
Focusing on movement
-Every day we make a series of movements that are basically on autopilot. This could be cleaning, doing the dishes, walking from home to the bus station, sitting down, standing up, going to the bathroom, eating, or shaking hands with people. Because such movements are frequent occurrences, we often don’t pay any attention to them. Instead, we think, plot, ruminate, worry, etc. Instead of spending time in our minds, we can also focus on these ordinary movements. This seems kind of pointless, but it surely takes our focus away from excessive thinking. This practice will instead direct our thoughts toward what is happening right now.
Life always happens in the present moment, whether we are aware of it or not. Living in the present moment is one of the key factors that will decide the quality of your life. It is safe to say that most of us spend a lot of time thinking about either the past or the future. This isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it can actually be a great thing if you can visualize the kind of life you desire to build. However, not all past or present thoughts that we have, are pleasant.
Engage your senses: Take time to notice the sights, smells, sounds, and textures around you. Paying attention to the present moment through your senses can help you stay grounded and aware.
Stay curious: Approach each experience with an open mind and a sense of curiosity. This can help you avoid making assumptions or judgments about a situation and allow you to fully experience it.
Let go of distractions: Try to let go of any distractions or worries that may be occupying your mind. Refocus your attention on the present moment and what is in front of you.
Practice gratitude: Take time to express gratitude for the present moment and what it brings to your life. This can help you maintain a positive perspective and cultivate a deeper appreciation for the world around you.
“In magic - and in life - there is only the present moment, the now. You can't measure time the way you measure the distance between two points. 'Time' doesn't pass. We human beings have enormous difficulty in focusing on the present; we're always thinking about what we did, about how we could have done it better, about the consequences of our actions, and why we didn't act as we should have. Or else we think about the future, about what we're going to do tomorrow, what precautions we should take, what dangers await us around the next corner, how to avoid what we don't want, and how to get what we have always dreamed of.”
― Paulo Coelho, Aleph
“What day is it?” asked Pooh.
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favorite day,” said Pooh.”
― A.A. Milne
“Life is a journey, not a destination.”
― Ralph Waldo Emerson