We all know that either being overly focused on the next thing we have to do or obsessing over past events is bad for our mental health. It makes for a busy mind, a lack of focus, stress and generally makes life less enjoyable for us and our loved ones. There is a lot of talk these days about being in the now, being fully in the present moment as the cure, the ultimate medicine for stress. I have even read on author’s statement that “You can’t reach your full potential until you learn to live your life in the present”. Being in the now means to live consciously, to fully experience ourselves and our surroundings without redundant thoughts and other distractions. It brings to mind a life of mindful practice, meditation and balanced harmony.
Sounds great in principle. However, for me in the busy whirlwind of my life, I have found it increasingly difficult to embrace mindfulness when I am running from meeting to meeting, trying to remember the shopping list and call my mother-in-law simultaneously. I resemble less the peaceful Buddha more the headless chicken on a treadmill. Being in the now centres around habit forming and reprogramming the brain. And despite all of my good intentions, I don’t seem to be able to tune in to that inner calm in the middle of Bilka when I have a train to catch.
But now the summer holidays loom. The usual treadmill of my brain is slowing down and the outside pressures trickle away. This (I believe) is the perfect time for me to truly bring into practice the art of living in the now. It may seem like cheating. After all living in the now is supposed to be most useful in times of inherent stress. But I say balls to that! For me when I am relaxed connecting with the present moment is simply easier. Without the constant pressure of work or school trying out new practices and reflecting becomes 10 times more achievable.
The summer holidays brings ample opportunity to learn new habits and behaviours. And what could be better than returning to work armed with a pocket full of habits that you can draw on whenever you need them. So if you want to return after the summer with a stronger sense of inner peace and equipped to deal with pressure take the chance this summer to appreciate your now. And if you are not sure how here are 5 tips to get you started
Taking time to close your eyes and breath is a wonderful way to centre yourself. To notice what is going on both within and around you. There are lots and lots of techniques out there. For example, the ‘mindfulness body scan is a classic. Personally, I prefer The easiest and shortest meditation technique as described by author Sherri Melwani:
Here’s the technique:
“1. Right here, right now, bring all your awareness to your breath. Shift your focus down to the belly and allow the belly to soften as you deepen your breath.
- Now mentally repeat to yourself, “Breathing In, I calm myself. Breathing out, I smile.” Say this like a mantra as many times as you need until you feel the shift.
- Notice the corners of your mouth begin to curl, even if just a tiny little bit, even if you have to pretend. Notice how your breath becomes a bit more even and deep. The subtle smile brings relaxation and carries the message “all will be OK” to your mind and body.
- That’s it! So simple and quick. Try it and feel free.”
Don’t try to quiet your mind
The hardest thing to do when living in the moment is, or trying to simply witness life, is to not have the urge to try to quiet your mind. When we try to quiet the mind, we just disturb it all the more. Witness your thoughts as if they are pure sound. Don’t try to judge your thoughts, there are no good thoughts or bad thoughts. Just notice what is there and what you are thinking.
Walk in nature
Go for a walk in nature and just observe. See, smell, listen. I highly recommend walking in bare feet or simply stopping and sitting. Nothing can be more peaceful than watching the ripples on water or the light dancing between the leaves of a tree’s canopy.
Disconnect for 1 hour a day
Get away from your phone, your computer and immerse yourself in something else. Reading is a great way to be present. As is being creative. Another great way is to have a shower and be conscious of the feeling. Choose an activity and really focus on that experience.
Slow down -actively listen and observe
How often do you truly listen when someone talks to you? How often do you see what is really in front of you? Try to hyper-focus in the moment. Slow down time in your mind. Take a breath before you respond in a conversation. Take a moment to drink in your surroundings. Give yourself the opportunity to feel alive.
You and I have this amazing gift called life. The present moment is the only real moment we can experience. Connect with that this summer and you will find not only do you feel more peaceful but your experience of contentment in your life will increase tenfold. Give yourself the gift of experiencing the now this summer
HAve an amazing week <3