Make time to do nothing. That’s right… nothing. Sit yourself down
in a quiet place and “just be” for
a few minutes. Focus on the pattern of your breathing. Let your thoughts float in and out of your conscious mind, observing them impartially and with a nonjudgmental, open outlook. Relax into your body and try to find a sense of comfort and peace in your body and in your environment.
Smile and be happy. Studies have shown that the emotions we show on our faces influence how we feel inside. It makes sense when you think about it. After all, we smile when we feel happy. So why wouldn’t we feel happy when we smile? Give it a try. See if you feel a little happier right now in this present moment with a smile on your face.
Be mindful as you breathe. Feel air entering your nostrils. Feel it fill your lungs. Imagine oxygen being carried throughout your body. Feel your lungs expel your breath. Pay close attention to how your breathing pattern changes with your emotions. Let the repetitive flow of breathing in and breathing out help relax you and keep you connected to the present moment.
Be mindful of your thoughts and emotions. Try to experience and accept whatever you might be thinking or feeling without concern or judgement. You may find a pattern that is not helping you truly engage in the present or appreciate life. If you find you easily become stuck in a spiral of negative thoughts, it is possible to break away and keep your negative thoughts from controlling you. Try acknowledging a negative thought and then consciously and deliberately let it go. Then replace it by thinking of something that makes you happy or thankful.
Pay attention to your five senses. Pay heed to whatever you are sensing at any given moment. What do you see? What do you smell? What do you hear? What do you taste? What do you feel? If you are eating a meal, taste each flavor. If you are taking a shower, feel the water on your skin. If you are lying in bed, notice the way your body feels at rest.
Don’t rush through life. Take your time. Try not to fill up your day with a myriad of things to accomplish so you end up rushing from one task to the next. Leave some breathing room in each day so you can slow down and really experience life.
Notice everything in your environment. Wherever you may be, take a look around. Really see and experience everything you can, even the smallest things. Is there a bird singing in the tree outside your window? What are the colors of the sunset? Are there clouds in the sky? Are there cracks in the sidewalk? Is a friend looking especially happy or sad today? Does that person across the way look lost or in need of a help?
Focus on now. Focus on what you are doing this very minute, not what you plan to accomplish tomorrow or what you did or didn’t do yesterday. Try to concentrate on one thing at a time instead of multitasking. If you are reading a book, enjoy the book. If you are dancing, really dance. If you are golfing, just play the game. If you are talking with a friend or loved, give the person your complete attention. Don’t try to have a conversation while also compiling your "to do" list.
Most people feel like time passes too quickly. Of course, it is impossible to slow down time, but we don’t have to feel like we are being propelled quite so swiftly through life. We can "stop and smell the roses" and enjoy the moments of life that can be so easily be missed.
Far too often, we let some of life's most miraculous moments slip right by unseen and underappreciated. We walk below beautiful blue skies or beside colorful flowers and never notice them. We talk with people without really paying attention. We spend time worrying about tomorrow or thinking about yesterday instead of fully experiencing and enjoying what is happening today. Far too often, we do not allow ourselves to live in the present.
Living in the present means really experiencing life and the world, along with all the many sounds, sights, colors, smells, and tastes we encounter each day. It is about being aware of our thoughts as we think them and our emotions as we feel them. Living in the present means genuinely inhabiting each moment of life.
Research has shown that there are physical and mental benefits to living in the present. According to studies, living in the present can help boost positive emotions - like joy and contentment - while reducing negative emotions - like stress and anxiety. It can help improve memory and attention skills. Evidence even suggests that living in the present moment may help improve our health.
It is never too late to start making the most of the present. If you would like to try to become a little more in touch with the miraculous moments of your life, the following suggestions may offer some inspiration:
Take an attentive walk. Select a time of day when you don’t have to rush. Walk slowly with a relaxed gait. Allow yourself to become aware of the world around you. Let the environment fill your senses. Notice the different sights, smells, sounds, and atmosphere along your route.
Slowly focus your attention along your body. Begin with your toes and end with the top of your head. Become aware of what you feel in each area of your body. Your ankles, calves, knees, hips, pelvis, stomach, chest, shoulders, hands, wrists, etc. Let yourself connect with each area of your body as it is in the moment, without trying to influence whatever you are sensing. Once you get the hang of it, you can try relaxing each area as you go along.
Living in the present practices you may want to try:
Don’t let your troubles take the wheel. Of course, everyone has challenges and difficulties they must face in life. If there is an action you can take to address a problem, do so… as soon as possible. But remember, fretting about something today will not change what happens tomorrow. Worrying takes you away from the present. It is not possible to be fully absorbed in your current life while worrying about the future. If you tend to be a constant worrier, make a determined effort to give yourself a break.