MoHow Posted by Dr. MO The present is the space between the past (what has already occurred) and the future (what will occur). It is only in this series of moments that we can experience direct contact between our senses and our world. Unfortunately most of us bring the past and future into the space, on an ongoing basis, so that we crowd out the present.
In this post I describe four ways to experience more in the present..
1. Pay Attention – When you have idle time at a stop light or in a line at the grocery, for example, pay attention. Instead of letting your mind run ahead of you thinking about the route to your destination and possible traffic delays, or the list of errands that have to be completed after the grocery run, take a moment and pay attention. Turn off the radio in the car, roll down the windows and witness the traffic going in the cross direction, the jogger doing his morning run, the trees swaying in the wind, the birds chirping, and the rustling of leaves. Do it for a few moments; it’s a good start.
2. Observe – Next time you’re in a meeting, observe what is going on. Observing lasts longer than paying attention. Paying attention is like seeing a series of still photos. Observation is more like watching a movie on a screen. Watch the players in action. Watch the body language. Listen for intonations. Do not speak. This can be a very powerful tool as you sit and take in everything that is playing out. You have nothing at stake in the grand scheme of things, but watch as you are able to respond perfectly when questioned. You will be surprised.
3. Breathe – When you’re ready to go beyond moments and minutes, try paying attention to your breath before you drift off to sleep. Before you drift off to sleep, spend 15 minutes paying attention to the rise and fall of your belly. If you feel yourself drifting off to sleep, or notice that your mind has wondered, gently bring it back to your belly. You could even put a book on it and watch it rise and fall.
4. Meditate – Establish a sitting practice. It is the practice of sitting still for 15- 30 minutes in silence. Let your thoughts go. When you realize that your mind is chasing your thoughts, bring it back to your breath. Just be still. Nothing to do or think about. Nothing to ponder, just be.
I suggest you practice being present starting at the top of the list. Gradually you will become more and more aware of what is going on in the present. If you are cooking, don’t think about what comes next, pay attention to what you are chopping now. When you are present, your life energy is infused into all that you do, from writing a letter, to singing a lullaby to your child, to having dinner with a friend.
You will smell more, hear more, taste more, see more, and feel more. Once you become more aware, you will then be able to connect to the world in much more seamless ways. You will be more present, and experience the Present As A Gift.
Practice and you will develop the habit of living in the moment.
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