How many of us actually live in the present moment? Just think about it for a few minutes. You might spend a lot of time worrying about events which have happened, or something which is scheduled to happen in the future? Or you might spend time fondly remembering the past, or looking forward to next weekend.
How much time do you spending focusing on the here and now. Where have your thoughts been over the last couple of hours?
A great skill to learn is that of being more present. Being present means being focused on your environment and your current task. Mindfulness puts us in touch with our lives. Multi-tasking is the opposite of mindfulness.
It means that your mind isn’t thinking about anything else other than what is right in front of you.
There are so many great benefits that come from being present in the moment. It’s about the only time your brain isn’t buzzing along thinking about 20 different things. You get to actually live your life, as opposed to either thinking about the past or the future. And it can help you to be far more productive, too.
Here are some techniques that can help you live more fully in the present:
Pay attention to what is going on around you.
Take a good look at what’s going on around you, (unless you are focused on a particular task). For example if you go for a walk then be observant. Notice everything: the cars driving by, other people, the trees blowing in the wind, various animals scurrying around, the clouds, and more. See everything.
Listen to everything. What can you hear? How many different sounds can you pick out?
What can you feel? The warm air moving across your arm? A sore foot?
The ground beneath your feet? Your cold hands?
What can you smell?
Imagine that you are a witness to an accident or crime scene. How detailed a report could you give when asked about what happened?
How aware are you of your environment?
Focus on the task in hand.
If you’re preparing the dinner, focus on preparing the dinner. If you’re writing a report, focus on writing the report. Your mind should stay on task. It takes practice to do it reasonably well, so practice all the time. When you start thinking about something else, gently come back to the task and let go of your previous thought.
You’ll get so much more accomplished when you’re focused on your task. You’ll also eliminate worry and stress. How can you be stressed if you’re only thinking about what is in front of you? There’s no room for stress.
If you’re having a hard time focusing on your work or environment, then pay attention to your breathing.
Your breath is a great reference point – it’s always with you (hopefully!). Focusing on your breathing also helps to get your brain and body working together. Just notice your breath – don’t try to change the pattern of your breathing, but just observe your breaths in and out. If your mind should wander, gently bring it back to focusing on your breath. After a few minutes, you should be ready to move into focusing on something else.
Practice all the time.
Make a game out of it, or set yourself little challenges. See if you can wash the dishes without thinking one stray thought; even thinking about how glad you’ll be when it’s done would be a stray thought. When you are eating your dinner, focus on that. Really taste each mouthful and be very conscious of what you are eating. Don’t be planning what you are going to do afterwards.
Do this with everything that you do, all day long.
At night, focus on your breathing.
Lying in bed is a great opportunity for most people to get themselves all worked up. We think about how horrible work was or about how we have so much to do tomorrow. None of this has ever helped anyone. Focus on your breathing until you fall asleep.
So will you make the effort to be more present? What techniques might you try?