13 September, 2011

Tips to Live in the Present

It is very easy to burn up all your energy worrying. Concerns about past mistakes, rehashing what you should have done, revisiting occasions of sadness or anger spend time and energy. Many people think of the future with anxiety, anticipating problems that they may not be able to overcome. Losing sleep, feeling on edge, and stress-related problems can be the results. One way to get out of the worry habit is to heighten your awareness of the present. Things are happening all around you every minute of the day. Why not focus on what is going on now, enjoying the simple fact of being alive and immediate, rather than casting your thoughts forward or backward to events you cannot change? The principle is simple, but the art is more complex. It takes practice, discipline, and above all, focus. Try the following tips to live in the present as warm-up exercises for learning to enjoy your life more fully in the here and now.

Tips to Live in the Present

  1. Listen. Stand still and focus on the sounds around you. What you hear is life happening. Try narrowing your focus to one distinctive sound and block out the others.
  2. See. Being introspective can be enlightening, but to live in the moment, use your eyes to look outside yourself. What color is the sky?
  3. Feel. On a sensory level, feel the environment around you. Is it warm against your skin? Feel the humidity in the air, note the slant of the sun's warmth or the briskness of wind in your hair.
  4. Smell. Fill your lungs with the scents of the day. Pleasant aromas, sharp odors, even sensory hints that are barely there, like the smell of rain, are all part of what is happening right now.
  5. Touch. Ground yourself in the moment by holding on. If you find your mind drifting back to its customary worries, touch a railing, pull a leaf from a tree, shake hands with a friend to stay current.
  6. Taste. Rather than automatically downing that morning coffee, focus on your taste buds to experience all its nuances of flavor. Savor your toast. Living in the moment means focusing on what you are doing right now.
  7. Create. Draw a doodle. Compose haiku. Fold that memo into an origami crane. Give your complete attention to the something you are making out of nothing.
  8. Laugh. Do not let your enjoyment of the present be clouded by habitual worries about the past or future. If you see something funny, laugh. It feels great.
  9. Run. Set your mind free by focusing on the physical. Run until you are out of breath.
  10. Meditate. The secret is to discipline your mind to float freely. Do not allow it to tether itself to memory or anticipation. Meditate with your eyes on a focal point nearby and keep your thoughts untethered.
  11. Communicate. One of the best ways to put down your mental burdens for awhile is to engage. Ask a question at a lecture. Join in a sing-along. Enter into a friendly debate.
  12. Invest. Do not just observe the world around you; join it. Allow your mind to observe and interpret what you see, hear, and feel. Care about the moment.
  13. Help. When you are helping someone else with a problem, you forget your own for the moment.
  14. React. Living in the moment does not mean sailing through untouched. Respond to the here and now as it happens.
  15. Be. Feel the effect of your own presence in the present, and refresh yourself with each moment that goes by.

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