Early on in my meditation practice, I kept being told to Focus on the moment, Live in the moment, Feel the moment…
But every time I really tried to grab that feeling, I failed. I felt like I was trying really hard but I could never seem to reach the amazing feeling that everyone was talking about. Promises of more happiness, calm and opening the pathways for abundance taunted me as I squeezed my eyes shut tighter and tried to focus on my breath. But the moment was always eluding me, fleeing to the next second ahead. I was like a frustrated coyote after a roadrunner and I was ready to give up on all the promises of wellbeing that I was told would start to appear.
The problem was, I couldn’t just give up. I had already made up my mind to learn to meditate properly – I couldn’t shut this part out of my meditation practice because it was a little difficult. So, I decided I would find out first what it was truly like to ‘live in the moment’ so that if it ever happened, I’d recognize it immediately.
I’d love to say that I then got on a plane, flew to Tibet and studied under some of the most disciplined monks, but it was just a slightly less glamourous quest.
Through my advanced sleuthing techniques of Googling and asking my yoga instructor a couple of questions, I started to get a picture that living in the moment, is not as fleeting as I had first thought and, more importantly, I’ve come to find that it’s a very misleading expression.
Living in the moment is not this elusive feeling of trying and failing to catch a piece of time, but a way to remind you to be grateful for what’s around you and take note. It’s about being aware of your surroundings and trying not to overindulge in wishful thinking and future success. It’s also about being especially mindful of past failures and not allowing them to prevent you from moving forward. In other words, mindfulness of your present state and all that is good only right now.
For instance, right now I’m typing this article. I’m living in the moment because I’m feeling the keys click down and not focusing on a deadline that might create anxiety and I’m not going to create a story in my head about what will happen if I don’t finish by a certain time. I’m also not going to create a block based on the one time I missed a deadline. The thing is, everything is okay right now. Everything right now is pretty good and I’ve finally found that great feeling that everyone from Oprah to my yoga instructor have been talking about.
Now that I have been getting a better handle on living in the moment, here are some tips I’ve gathered.
Top Ways to Live in the Moment
Technology can really takes us out of the moment, so a very simple way to be more in touch with your surroundings is to simply unplug. A little less Netflix binging and maybe even leave your phone and mp3 player at home when you walk the dog. He’s your best friend, right? Doesn’t he deserve your full attention?
And when we’re out for a meal, not only should we give our undivided attention to your companions, but maybe the meal could just be appreciated for what it is and leave Facebook out of it. You know what I mean.
Find something near you to smile about. Right now in my office I can see a pile of work, a boring glass of water and my phone. It’s all mundane if I pass it all by, but a little mindful perspective change and I see a lot more. My pile of work is bringing in money, the water is giving me life and health, and my phone is connecting me to my friends and family…and, most importantly, Candy Crush, for when I need to zone out, just a little.
Say Thank You
This could be gratitude for the same things you just smiled about or maybe you want to think bigger and practice gratitude for all that you have. As countless studies have shown, ‘an attitude of gratitude’ has its own benefits that are very much tied to mindfulness. A gratitude practice can increase psychological, physiological health, sleep patterns and quality and even general happiness. Taking a few minutes each day to be appreciative of what you have can even reduce your level of stress, which can also reduce your risk of cancer and heart disease. How about a big ‘thank you’ to that?
Are you so laserfocused that you are willing to miss miracles happening all around you?
I tried to go one full day completely headphonefree. Similar to unplugging, listening to music can be a big distraction from what’s around. For me it’s so much so that I might even close my eyes on the subway and completely remove myself from the present situation. So for me personally, as per my yoga instructor’s advice, I had to unplug first, then look around and try to find beauty on my commute home.
What I discovered was pretty incredible. Not only was I more in tune with the sights and sounds but I made more eye contact with more people who smiled back. I think because I appeared more aware and approachable, two different people came up to me, just to ask for some help with directions and I was able to help them both. I had a smile on my face and a great feeling of calm connectedness for the rest of my trip home.
I’m sorry to say that the headphones remain most days, but I’m working on being more present even with the music on. I certainly don’t want to miss the moment Ryan Reynolds needs directions to the nearest divorce lawyer…
The point of saying, ‘live in the moment’ is to remember that so often we keep our minds busy with worry and doubt about the future or even failures from the past. Finding a way to either stop this negative noise through meditation or by refocusing on something great happening for you in the present can go such a long way in living the positive beautiful lives we are all ready to design. There’s so much around us to enjoy and be thankful for. This means there’s no limit on the benefits we can receive from more awareness. Thank goodness for that!
Ashe has been working in energy healing and self-development for about 8 years now and is also a Business English teacher by day. She does energy healing, guided meditations and is certified as a consulting hypnotist, but her main focus is on promoting her work with busy thirtysomethings who are trying to find the perfect work-life balance. She has worked with clients from all over the world, helping them achieve their goals in parenting, relationships, career and more. She writes a blog, Being Thirty and does speaking events to motivate thirtysomethings to live their best lives. She is also releasing an online course this summer.