In a time when fear and uncertainty are the flavour of our days, it has never been more important to hone in the skill of living in the present moment. By Deepa Desa
We have all had experiences of present-moment awareness. Often referred to as being “in the zone”, we are so intensely focused on the task we are immersed in that we lose touch with everything else around us.
Can you recall such a situation/s?
In this state of heightened awareness, we experience more joy, more peace, and more happiness than when we are engaged in obsessing over the future or fretting about the past.
Dr. Wayne Dyer, famed author, metaphysical speaker, and life coach, says this about living in the present moment:
“Present-moment living, getting in touch with your now, is at the heart of effective living. When you think about it, there really is no other moment you can live. Now is all there is, and the future is just another present moment to live when it arrives.”
In these uncertain times when fear and uncertainty are the flavour of our days, it has never been more important to hone that skill of learning to live in and appreciate the present moment.
How do we do this?
Life doesn’t last forever. Many spiritual gurus advise this, and for me it has become the focus of my life. What if today was your last day on the planet? Would you still obsess about the future? Cry about the past? How would you make sure your last day was lived the way you wanted, knowing you take nothing but your soul with you?
Would you not enjoy each moment the present held for you?
With joy, awareness, gratitude, forgiveness and love?
It may sound far-fetched and too deep for some of us, but as seniors by now we have all experienced one or many life- changing moments, that stop our world. Make us introspect and review our life. Alter our mindset and set us on a path of self – discovery.
A significant step in the self-realisation journey is learning how to stay in the present moment.
“Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.” — Buddha
If you would like to make the most of your present and enjoy every minute to its fullest, consider following these tips:
Reaffirm your commitment to remain present
Remaining in the present moment is going to require a degree of effort and commitment.
Start by spending a few moments each morning reminding yourself that you need to enjoy the day for what it is and make the most of it.
Become aware of everything around you.
Pause and take a look at your surroundings.
Are there people or animals around you, and if so, what are they doing? Are there any observations you can make about what’s going on around you?
Far too often, we float through the days without ever stopping and really looking at the world around us or at our own homes.
However, it’s an incredibly interesting world we live in if you observe the little nuances that make the day a good one.
Slow down a bit. If you don’t take the time to stop and recognise the beauty of something truly simple and even seemingly insignificant, or revel in a sunset, you miss the sweetness of “just being” — and that is a truly rewarding experience just passed up.
Breathe; to become conscious awareness
Breathing is also an activity though involuntary, is completely in the present moment. When we are able to focus on our breath, we slow it down, we make it more efficient, and we oxygenate every cell in the body.
Our breath has the remarkable ability to help bring us back to the present moment, to calm and slow the mind, eliminating toxic thought processes about the past and worrying about the future.
So the next time you find yourself mentally agitated, sad, angry, or worried – just bring your attention back to your breath.
Three deep breaths, slowly. Chant Aum – three times. Slowly.
Aum means “I AM” – the most powerful energy of higher consciousness.
Say to yourself “I am ____” (peaceful in this moment, love in this moment, grateful in this moment, happy in this moment etc.)
Come back to your present moment. Yes, it does work rather beautifully.
Seize the day
Every day is a gift to us. Wake up and thank the sun for illuminating our earth and your mind. Smell the wet earth after the rain. Cuddle your cat or dog. Hug your loved one. There are free gifts all around us and opportunities just waiting to be taken advantage of.
Don’t wait. Live in the present moment, and create a life of magical gifts that you can use to benefit yourself and others.
Focus on a single task
Multitasking is not always effective; we often rush through tasks and fail to give our best efforts when completing several things at one time. Slowing down, focusing on a single task, and completing that with excellence gives new perspective to accomplishing things in life.
Have you noticed that you needlessly answer every phone call even when it may be interrupting something that you may be happily engaged in?
Are you always on the phone whilst doing a hundred things?
A slower-paced approach to life is needed at this time, and it will allow you to actually get more done to your satisfaction. Let go of the obsessive need to complete a thousand things in a day, and watch how your productivity actually increases.
Oh, there is so much to be grateful for—the air we breathe, the roof over our heads, good food on the table, the opportunity to live life and experience the world around us, the gifts of love and joy that are ours for the taking if we choose to see them.
When we practice gratitude, we find things to appreciate about daily living; it impacts our health, our minds, and life as a whole. And the best part? We receive more abundance.
Daily acts of kindness
A simple smile, a helping hand, a kind word to a passerby on the street could significantly improve someone’s life; the truth is, we never know how a simple act of kindness is going to enrich and improve the lives of those around us.
The pandemic has given us a chance to spread some good karma by spreading a little kindness around daily, and see how your own life improves as a result of all that goodness.
Become an observer – of your thoughts
It is estimated that we have a staggering 70,000 thoughts daily swimming around in our consciousness.
Much of this is negative and limited thinking based on our previous experiences; these toxic thoughts keep us locked in a current reality that we can’t change, or experiencing circumstances that we view as out of our control. This brings with it sadness and even depression.
Learn to retrain your negative thoughts into positive ones.
I clearly remember a discourse which encouraged us to carve out our reality by our changing our perceptions. Our thoughts carry us into our reality.
Simply becoming aware of our thoughts gives us the opportunity to redirect them and create a new reality based on new thoughts and new possibilities.
Thoughts are so powerful. When you first start to turn the boat around, it may seem like slow going. As with all things, however, a practiced skill becomes much easier with time. Give yourself the gift of observing your thoughts, and it will change your life.
Most of us want to hear our own voices, our own stories, our own woes.
But we need exactly the opposite.
Listening to others and truly understanding what they are saying to you helps you to make deeper connections with others, form authentic relationships, and express who you are freely.
Acknowledging what others say in an attempt to understand their thoughts and motivations will give you an insight into the way they think and the way you respond. It also gives you insights into who really “gets” you. Being in the present gives you the power of intuitively knowing who’s in sync with you – or not.
Eat slowly. Savour each bite.
I have an unforgettable image in my mind about a swami I once met. As we sat down to eat, I could not take my eyes off him. From the way he peeled his fruit, to taking each bite of it, he emanated a conscious awareness of his present moment like nothing else mattered but enjoying each bite of fruit. When I asked him how he did it, he replied that it was a matter of making it a habit to be completely present with each experience.
We rush through life, gulp down our food, eat while talking on the phone, watching TV, and even engage in unconscious eating (emotional junk food binges) as a means of making ourselves feel better. This rush for gratification often leaves us very dissatisfied.
Slowing down, becoming conscious of tastes, smells, and textures when eating helps you to remain more present in the moment and enjoy one of the most pleasurable experiences of life — a good meal.
Enjoy exactly where you are
There are two aspects to this.
One is the actual act of waiting for someone or something. The other is waiting for something or someone to bring happiness to you.
Both result in frustration.
According to Eckhart Tolle, waiting is a state of mind more than it is a situation that we find ourselves in, meaning that you can control it.
The next time you find yourself waiting for something, try not to think of yourself as waiting at all.
Consider a person who is waiting for a bus to arrive.
Now, if you were to ask this person what they were doing, most people would tell you that they were waiting for the bus. But what if, instead, their response was that they were enjoying the fresh air and watching the events around them unfold? When the bus arrives, they’ll get on it and carry about their lives. Until then, though, they are enjoying the present moment they find themselves in rather than spending the entire time staring at their watch.
Imagine what a more pleasant time this person is having than they would have if they had a waiting mindset.
A waiting mindset breeds impatience, and impatience breeds frustration.
The reality is, though, that waiting is a choice, and rather than choosing to wait you can choose to enjoy life’s moments as they come instead.
The same goes for waiting to be happy.
We think – After my daughter gets married to a good boy then I will be happy. After I get through my surgery then I will be content. Let my husband / wife get better, then I will find happiness, when I get a better rate of interest, then I’m going to be over the moon.
We defer our happy moments by giving the power away to a situation or person. Little realising we can be happy right now, right here – for no reason at all and without waiting for conditions to be fulfilled.
I hear you say it sounds good in theory. But once you start owning your own joy, you will thank yourself.
Spiritual guru and author of several books including bestsellers, The Power of Now and A New Earth, Eckhart Tolle, calls it stillness. “It’s an aware presence, he says, nothing to do with past or future. We can also call it waking up. That’s why many spiritual traditions use the term awakening. You wake up out of this dream of constant thinking. You become present.”
He goes on to say, “The only moment we ever really have is this one. Happiness isn’t in the future or the past but in mindful awareness of the present.”
The art of being present can be learned if you practice diligently and commit to moments of awareness daily. Wherever you are, be fully there. For it is in “being here now” that the magic of your life truly unfolds.