Being Present

M

indfulness is at the core of the Buddhism and the foundation of many spiritual practices around the world. It is thought that if one can achieve a mindful state and be truly in the present moment, they will achieve true freedom. In our culture, being busy is something that everyone can relate to. Multitasking is a highly desirable skill and being stressed out is as common as seasonal allergies.

Most people can readily list the major stressors in their life, such as a difficult work environment, worrying about their financial future, taking care of children, staying on top of chores, and maintaining relationships just to name a few.

If I take a minute to think about the top 5 stressors in my life right now, I realize that none of them are about anything that is happening right in this moment. Amazing isn’t it? Nothing that I’m worried about is occurring right this moment; it’s all things that will happen in the future or have happened in the past.

In this moment, I am sitting on my couch, with the breeze coming in my window, I am comfortable and have everything that I need. Like many people however, it doesn’t take long for my mind to wander off to my to-do list for the week, or the laundry that needs to be done, or wondering what I’ll wear to that important meeting this week. Being present in the moment requires training the mind, and a lot of practice. In order to be present, one must first set the intention to do so. Then regularly check in with yourself through the day, to remind yourself to stay in the present moment.

Here are some of the ways that can help to practice staying in the moment:

  • Use a bell or alarm to remind you to return to the present moment. There are many apps that will sound a bell periodically throughout the day to cue your mind to focus on the here and now. Eventually the mind will become trained to stay in, or at least return to the present moment. It will begin to feel easier and more natural over time.
  • Breathe.  This is a common theme in my blog posts, I know. Breathing is just such a simple, powerful and underestimated action that is so accessible. Focusing on our breath, and breathing deeply can relax our mind and body in a matter of seconds.
  • Focus on the 5 senses. So what happens when that bell sounds? How do we actually work on being present? Well, one way is to focus on our five senses. Stop what you’re doing, take a breath and think about what you are seeing, feeling, hearing, perhaps tasting and smelling. You can do this anywhere, anytime and you will be guaranteed to calm the mind and return to the present moment.
  • Feel what you’re feeling. Tune in to your emotions and allow yourself to just feel, without trying to change, fix or judge how you are feeling. The more comfortable we become with our emotions, the more present, relaxed and calm we become.

Now let’s talk a little more about the advantages of staying in the present moment during some real life scenarios. Picture this: you come home from a stressful day of work, bad traffic on your commute home and you’re trying to make dinner so that you can make it to that meeting later this evening. Then your 2-year-old starts crying and pulling at your leg because she wants you to play. Normally this scene would result in higher levels of stress, frustration and you hastily making dinner, but with the new tools that you have to stay in the present moment, things are different. You can take a deep breath, focus on the present, get down and play with your child for 5 minutes and appreciate her loving energy. This allows you to let go of the stress of the day, and the rush that comes with trying to get dinner on the table by a certain time. Everyone is happier as a result and you return to cook a meal, more efficiently and lovingly than before.

Then the next day, you find yourself in a huge line up at the grocery store, while you pick up some essentials for a work meeting that you’re worried you might be late for. Take a moment and think about why you feel tense and stressed out. It’s 99% likely that it is nothing in the present that is causing stress. Try to focus on the colours and sounds of the grocery store and let go of everything that is not present in that moment. Let go of all other thoughts and feelings. You will most certainly feel more relaxed and refreshed when you arrive at that meeting.

Practicing being mindful and present allows your mind to experience true freedom. This freedom brings peace, happiness and a fuller more vibrant life. Take a moment right now to bring your mind to the present!

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