Living in the now sounds like such a simple concept, but think of a time in your life when you were struck by how quickly time has passed. For example, maybe you noticed this with children growing up. One day you see your friend’s daughter learning to crawl, and the next time you see her, she’s walking and talking. Wow, they grow up so fast, you might think.
When there are visible, tangible changes, we are reminded of how quickly life moves and it helps us see what’s important, as well as feel the motivation to enjoy what we have. How do we apply this concept of awareness in other aspects of our lives? Below are a few ways you can be present so living in the now can become a consistent practice.
Remember how short life is
Consider what it might be like at the end of your life and how it would be to look back at all your life as a memory. What would you be proud of and what might you regret? There are so many events that serve as reminders for how short life is, and yet, they often become distant memories without awareness. Take a step back to acknowledge them, such as your childhood and old friends you no longer speak to.
Think about the people currently in your life. Remember the last time you said goodbye to a close friend or family member and imagine that it’s the last time that you’ll see them. How would you want to act and spend time with them?
The key is to think of something that moves you and opens your heart and mind to the wider perspective of life’s changes. At first, you might notice it makes you feel sad or depressed, and that’s okay! There’s something about recognizing your own mortality that can be heavy. So, allow it to move you, but then to move on to what’s important to you and take advantage of what you have now.
If we are touched by how quickly life passes and then use that momentum to clarify how we want to spend our time, we can spark changes in our lives that our usual complacency might block.
Identify what’s important to you
After reflecting on how short your life is, take a step back to think about what is meaningful to you, such as all the experiences in life that you would like to have. Is it family, friends, being out in nature or going dancing? We only have these passing moments of experience, so ask yourself: how would you like them to be?
Enjoy what you have now
It’s important to acknowledge the way that our state of mind perceives our experiences. Think of a time when you’ve been in a great place, with good company, and you are so caught in your head that you’re not able to enjoy it. Or, if you’ve ever been in an unpleasant situation, but you were able to enjoy yourself because of your mindset.
When you think about how to enjoy your life, remember you can only control how you react to scenarios, not the scenarios themselves. We can always work with our minds, and in the same way that the mind can make a nice vacation a terrible experience, it can also make a challenging situation more bearable, and an ok experience enjoyable.
As we’re living in the now, this is where our mindfulness practice comes in. We can train our awareness to be present to what’s already happening in our experience such as the sound of birds outside, the touch of a warm breeze, a morning cup of coffee or the softness and warmth of a bed. Simply by being aware of our daily experiences we’ll be able to enjoy them more.
Create a Tangible Sense of Enjoyment
Once you’re present, you can do some things to help you enjoy your experience. Try to think about the positive or nice qualities of what you’re experiencing. For instance, if you’re eating something you enjoy, focus on the subtle details of the flavors, and appreciate the parts that you like. And when you feel that tangible sense of enjoyment, then allow yourself to soak in it.
What’s that tangible sense of enjoyment like? Imagine someone giving you a massage and you have that moment of “ah, how nice.” Your body relaxes, and you allow yourself to soak up the pleasant sensations. When there is something pleasant to experience, we can fully enjoy it by being present and allowing ourselves to naturally savor the tastes, smells, sights, or touches.
Other Ways to Live in the Now
It’s when we’re tense and our mind tries to control, or is simply thinking about something else, that we lose our opportunity to enjoy an experience. Knowing how quickly life passes by can help motivate us to enjoy our life and clarify what it is that’s meaningful for us.
But it’s by being present that we’re actually able to enjoy what we have. By being present we start to enjoy this ever changing stream of moments waiting for us to notice them. Did you know we offer several programs on staying present? Take a look at our schedule for Mindful Daily to see the next class on presence, just login to your eM Life account or create a new one today!
About the Author
Mike Engle has been passionate about training his mind since he was first exposed to mindfulness at the age of 16. Since then, his desire to understand and work with his mind has led him to earn degrees in Psychology and Philosophy, to research attention training in monastic education in Nepal, and to sit four and a half years in intensive solitary retreat. After finishing his retreat Mike began to teach mindfulness to others, and after starting his own family he became interested in bringing the benefits of mindfulness to parents, children, and families. He currently lives in Barcelona with his wife and sons where he spends his time teaching mindfulness, coaching, and working in the field of Tibetan translation. Mike has worked as an eM Life instructor since 2017.