I was sitting on my couch yesterday, and I looked over at the clock. It looked so beautiful bathing in the sunlight that shone through the window. First, it got me thinking about how simple things can add meaning and wonder to our lives. Second, I was reminded that the present moment is the place to be. Yes, right now. And now. How often do we, as humans, find ourselves stewing about the past or worrying about the future? In my experience, it can be quite often if I am not making an effort to be conscious of my thoughts.
Why does it matter? Why is it so important to be present?
It improves our relationships. When we are more present to our loved ones, our co-workers, and the check-out clerk, we build deeper relationships. This creates not only more meaning and satisfaction in our own lives, but also with those that we interact.
It allows us to be more focused and productive in a work setting. When we aren’t distracted by the phone, the past, and concerns, we allow creativity to flow and experience efficiency in what we are doing. Which brings up another question – where does creativity come from? I don’t know for sure, but my deep belief is that most brilliant insights and creations are Divinely inspired. We always have a connection to our Higher Power, and we can tap into that at any time – if we are present to it.
It cultivates greater health and well-being. When we are mindful during a meal, for example, we are more present to our true hunger level. It simply keeps us from eating too much. It also helps us appreciate the food and the taste more. For every meal I eat, I say “thank you”. I try to really taste what I am eating and notice the flavors. Gratitude, in and of itself, is healing. Through the study of epigenetics, we have learned that the mind can heal the body. Our attitude and that which we focus on determines our health and life experience. (As explained by Bruce Lipton, M.D., a pioneer in epigenetics, epigenetics is “the study of cellular and physiological traits, or the external and environmental factors, that turn our genes on and off, and in turn, define how our cells actually read those genes. It works to see the true potential of the human mind, and the cells in our body.”) Being grateful attracts more to be grateful for!
We stay on our path. Whether it is literally driving, biking, or walking somewhere with a clear sense of direction or figuratively staying on a path of our life’s purpose and joy, being in the present moment, gets you there. It doesn’t mean we can’t daydream and brainstorm about the future. I actually encourage that. But if you do, do it mindfully and with intention. Thoughts create things and you want your thoughts and intentions to manifest as the best experience for you.
We don’t get hurt as often! Well, that’s only because we are more aware of our surroundings when we are present, and, in turn, don’t run into things. Maybe that’s just me! : ) Less literally, it can also help by opening us up to our intuition. We hear, feel, and know more of what truly feels right for us in any given moment.
But being present is hard. How do I do that?
Here are a few tips:
- Set reminders for yourself on your phone or put sticky notes around your home. Maybe they say, “Stay in the present moment” or “The only time is now.”
- Start small. For the first week of your “being in the present moment” practice, choose one activity to practice. Maybe it is your meal, your workout, or your phone conversations. Then, notice how that was for you. As you experience success, you will be encouraged to do more of it.
- Try journaling. Ask yourself and your Higher Power what would help you be more present. The answer is always available.
- Allow your feelings. When we practice mindfulness and live in the present moment, our feelings and emotions are more accessible to us. Feelings are a wonderful guide to tell us what we need and want. Listen to them. Feel them all the way through. And then, it will be easier to let them go. Then, only the lesson remains.
- Enlist an accountability partner like your significant other, child, and/or friends to help each stay in the moment. Encourage each other to “be here now” and shut off phones during your time together.
- Work with a coach or spiritual counselor like me to help you overcome any false beliefs that block you from being present and to receive guidance on how to get started. (To learn how to work with me, click here.)
I encourage you to close your eyes now and make at least one concrete action and commitment to yourself to be more present. You won’t regret it!