“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, nor to worry about the future, but to live the present moment wisely and earnestly.” – Buddha
What is the problem, why can’t we stay in the present moment?
For most of us, we would love to follow Buddha’s advice however living in the present moment day to day is truly a challenge. We are constantly feeling the pull of our many obligations and experience stress as we think about what happened in the past (you’re embarrassed, wondering about what you did or what you could’ve done or how someone else may have interpreted what you did) or you are thinking and worrying about something that may happen in the future (how will I get this done, will I be able to do it, there’s so much on my to do list, what will happen if I don’t finish it?.. and on and on.)
Why should we try to stay in the present moment?
One of the main reasons to try to live in the present moment as much as possible is to reduce stress. As you continuously entertain your obsessive thoughts…”monkey mind” your body is moving into a stressful state. As I discussed in a previous blog on how stress effects the body, it is worth repeating several core points.
Stress is estimated to be responsible for 80% of all doctors’ visits. And I believe that. The short list of physical symptoms includes being tired but wired, digestion issues, poor sleep, and accelerated aging. Mood issues up to depression, lack of impulse control, memory issues, and change in appetite are just a handful of examples of what stress does to you. But that’s not all…
Stress is at the core of this country’s top diseases that cause us to prematurely die – cardiovascular disease, depression and anxiety, eating disorders, and even Alzheimer’s and cancer. Don’t you think this is worth considering a few changes in your life? If being in the present moment can reduce some of this, wouldn’t we want to give it a try?
What are the benefits of living in the present moment?
JOY, JOY and more JOY. Being in the present moment as much as possible is where the true happiness lies. It takes time and practice for us to continuously stay in the present moment but it’s so well worth it. As you go to bed and think about your day you’ll realize that you have more good memories of the day. I’ve found that this also helps to ‘slow time down’.
What practices do I use to bring myself back to present moment awareness?
- Slowing down while I’m eating and actually engaging my five senses. Seeing, tasting, touching, smelling and listening as I enjoy my food. Instead of eating on the go or in the car, I try to take time to sit in a place I enjoy and really taste my food. I also try not to check my phone, talk or do meetings at the same time I am trying to eat. This always me to stay more present and focused.
- Actively listening in conversation with others. This can be very challenging for me at times…not to think about how I will respond but to stay focused on the other person, what they are saying and actively listen to what the person is trying to communicate.
- Seeing the beauty in nature…I just love walking outside and hearing the birds chirping and being present as I listen to the beautiful and organic sounds of nature.
- Be present while taking a long shower. I especially enjoy a scalp massage as I just let the water drip off of my body. I find that some of the simplest activities can have a whole new meaning and feeling when I stay in the present moment and just experience what is happening right then.
- I meditate and find this to be a great tool to stay in the present moment. For more details on how to utilize this practice, please visit my previous blog.
Take Action Now:
You can start living in the present moment by focusing on two to three reoccurring situations in your life…getting the kids ready for school, driving to work, cooking dinner, etc. And just check in with your body and your senses while you are engaged in the task. As you lie down in bed and think about your day, reflect if the moments that you experienced fully present have greater meaning and therefore impact on your day. You’ll realized that pausing to control your “monkey mind” and being present in the moment will make you a happier person.