Mark Twain couldn’t have put it better when he said, “I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” As I write it’s New Years Eve 2019 and if you’re anything like me your mind is spinning, reflecting on the good and the bad of the year we’ve just had and thinking about the prospect of the one ahead. And we thinking creatures, more often than not, focus on the not so good! That’s why I love Mr Twain’s quote above and refer to it often. So I thought December 31st might be a fitting time to talk about how to be present in the moment.
Being in the what…????
In our instant interconnected global community, we’re aware of every buzzword, fad, craze out there or at least it’s just one Google away. If you’ve gotten here, no doubt you’ve heard all the phrases – staying present, being in the moment, living in the moment …etc etc. So is all of this just another passing phase or is there some real substance to it and can it make a difference in our daily lives?
Simply put, it’s all about our ability to pay attention to the present, to be aware of it without dwelling in the past or worrying about the future and it has stood the test of time – people have been for hundreds of years, thousands if we consider the great meditators from the early eastern traditions.
What will it do for me?
Here are just some of the benefits you can expect from continued practice of being present in the moment – there are many more but I can personally vouch for these:
- Eating Less- quite apt at this time with the holiday celebrations and new year upon us. If there’s one time we tend to over-indulge it’s around now! But, by paying attention to what we eat and savoring our food we eat more slowly and tend to eat less.
- Work Smarter not Harder – when our minds are present in any situation, be it work or at home, we naturally focus on the task in hand, we gain the ability to do things more efficiently with the same amount of effort.
- The Cloud Hanging over you disappears – although just staying focused in the present moment won’t solve all of our life problems, it frees us up to concentrate and enjoy what we are doing now. Interestingly, the ability to do this on a consistent basis may just help us to solve some of those issues when we have to think about them at the appropriate time. Don’t feel guilty for not always thinking about your problems – it’s ok to do that.
- You’re no different than me – I know, I know we are all different but how often have you walked into a room at work or some social occasion and felt overawed and inferior by some of the people standing before you? Staying in the moment helps you to focus on the human aspect of people rather than their business or social status. They have times of joy, sadness, fear, love and compassion just like you.
Focus on something, I mean really observe it.
I was walking the dogs this morning and took the time to observe the skyline in the distance, the rolling hills slightly hazed by the morning mist, the summit of each little hill that I’ve run up over the years for as far back as I care to remember. I could have thought about the emails I need to send urgently back in the office, the job that needs doing on the car or that sarcastic comment from the guy in the supermarket queue yesterday. But instead, I felt alive and connected, full of gratitude for the beauty that is all around me. And now I’m in such a better frame of mind.
The beauty of being mindful in the moment is that it doesn’t matter much where you are or what you’re doing. We are a nation of queuers – in the traffic, in the store, at the bar and the list goes on…. How about waiting at the checkout – turn that frustrating 5 minutes into a steady flow of in and out breaths focusing on the sound of air rising through your nostrils and the gentle compression of your belly as you exhale. You can even thank the cashier for facilitating the time for your magic moment!
Do it little, often and with feeling.
Repetition is the mother of mastery as the saying goes so try each day to focus for just a couple of minutes starting as soon as you wake. Have many mini successes over the course of the day knowing that with each repeat a very positive habit is forming in your brain – keep adding lanes to those neural highways! Before long, you’ll find your attention span lengthen until this wonderful state of being consumes much of your waking day.
Bring together all the senses of sight, sound, touch, feeling and smell as you connect with your activity. Focus on just that, and when the mind wanders, remember it’s normal – don’t judge it, acknowledge your brief excursion and gently bring yourself back to the moment.
This moment is all we have.
Rather than repeat those mantras in my head or saying them out loud, when instead I completely immerse myself in the moment, it feels liberating knowing that it’s enough, I’m content, calm and having a great day. So next time your doing a routine chore like washing the dishes or taking a shower, bring your awareness to that event, just that event, nothing else, not the rest of life’s baggage. It may be mundane but in that moment nothing else matters, you can’t alter the past or shape the future, you can just be, worry free! Give it a go and please let me know how you get on by leaving a comment below.
All the best,
Founder of magicmotives.com