“The meeting of two eternities, the past and the future… is precisely the present moment."-Henry David Thoreau
We experience an incredible amount of thoughts each day that pull us away from the present moment; that meeting you have to prepare for, the feeling that your terrible morning commute has completely ruined your day, the memory of your partner giving you a goodbye kiss this morning, social media and the Internet, stress, anxiety… In other words, thoughts about the past and the future often pull us away from our present moment experience.
When we can be present to our life as it’s happening, we find increased peace, happiness and fulfillment in life. Being fully present in the here and now, with an open, accepting, and loving awareness is a simple path to feeling good.
In the final week of May, we will explore the different ways in which we can be present. To begin this week, we’ll talk about 7 different opportunities to practice!
1. Be Present in the Moment
Being present in the moment is the very foundation of mindfulness. To be present in the moment simply means that we are intentionally paying attention to what’s happening both inside our minds and bodies and what’s happening outside us.
2. Be Present in Your Mind
Being present in your mind means actively noticing your thoughts throughout the day. Through noticing your thoughts, you can come to understand what things your mind spends most of its time thinking about and how your mind reacts to other people and events that occur to you throughout the day. Noticing and understanding your mind can help you retrain your mind; for instance, if you find that you mostly concentrate on negative things, noticing this is the first step to being able to retrain your mind to focus on more positive thoughts and ideas.
3. Be Present in Your Body
As mentioned, being present in mind and body is paramount; maintaining a balance is very important. You can be too present in your mind, and forget to notice the needs of your body, or you’re not present enough and aren’t noticing what’s happening around you. Have you ever, for instance, had the experience of driving home after work, only to realize you have no memory of the actual drive? Or have you ever been working on something so intently that when you finish, you suddenly realize you haven’t eaten in hours? Being present in our bodies can help ground us and help us notice what’s happening both inside us and around us.
4. Be Present in Your Experiences
Being present in your experiences is a great way to never miss out on anything life has to offer. This also means you can direct your attitude towards your experiences so that you are more likely to enjoy them. It can mean the difference between being angry and stressed out on your commute to work in the morning, and being calm and content listening to music or a morning radio talk show, observing the world around you as you wait in traffic. When you are present in your experiences, everything will seem brand new, as though you are experiencing it for the first time!
5. Be Present in Conversation
Have you ever been in a conversation with someone, only to suddenly notice you have no idea what the last thing they said was? Or what the last thing you said was! Being present while we are in conversations with other people can help us build better relationships and we can learn so much! Furthermore, for those with social anxiety, being present in a conversation and really concentrating on what someone is saying can help overcome the self-consciousness to allow you to participate in the conversation fully.
6. Be Present in Your Pursuits
Whether you are pursuing something at work or on your own time, being present with whatever you are working on or pursuing can help you stay focused and even be more creative. Being present and concentrating on what you are working on will allow you to be more productive, because your head is not filled with thoughts of the past and future, such as what you are going to eat for dinner, or the television show you watched last night.
7. Be Present with Your Breath
One way we can train our minds to be present in the moment is by quietly observing breath in our bodies. If you’ve ever taken any of our 14 minute classes, you’ll probably have experienced this! By purposefully taking notice of our breath, we are immediately centering ourselves in the present. We are constantly breathing (since we breathe to live!), concentrating on our breath takes us into our body, minds, and the moment that we are in right now. Simply notice how it feels to breath in; notice how your lungs, ribs, chest, and belly expand, what the temperature and feeling of the air in and around your nostrils feels like, and how tense your muscles feel as you breathe in. Then notice how it feels to breath out; focus on how your chest and belly draw back in, how the air is warmer and moister as you breathe out, and how your body relaxes once more.
We know that we feel present thanks to our eM Life community. We find that by practicing together, live and online in any of our daily sessions, we’re all contributing to a treasured wealth of shared ideas and experiences! Join the community and explore eM Life today!
Review the past weeks of May You Be Mindful:
Also published on Medium.