Mindfulness: Embrace the Present Moment

Dalai Lama

“He said, “There are only two days in the year that nothing can be done. One is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow, so today so today is the right day to love, believe, do and mostly live.”

Dalai Lama: Live Now

This is from the Dali’s Lama. Also, Thich Nhat Hanh taught the same concept. We spend so much time regretting the past and feeling apprehension and doubt about the future. As a result, we overlook the present. Yet we live in the present. Now, we can love, grasp spiritual beliefs, and live as fully. Regretting the past doesn’t help any of us. The past is gone. The regrets we have for our choices, how we behaved toward loved ones, and how we felt about ourselves cannot be changed. What can be changed is how we live now.

Being in the present moment, or the “here and now,” means that we are aware and mindful of what is happening at this very moment. We are not distracted by ruminations on the past or worries about the future but centered on the here and now. All our attention is focused on the present moment. 

Thich Nhat Hanh tells the story of living in a Buddhist Commune before the communists took over. The kitchen was hot, and they took turns washing the dishes. He remembers and writes about how horrible it was and how each person or a monk wanted to get the dishwashing over with as soon as possible. He writes about allowing himself to feel the soap in the water, fill the dishes against his hands, and enjoy what it felt like to have or finish washing each dish. And then he remembered that this moment was when he was alive, in the present, and why not grasp each moment and live it to the fullest?

All of us are better off or would be better off if we embraced this way of thinking and living. We still plan for the future. We do plan for the future. We also beat ourselves about the past. Blaming ourselves for regretting the past does not help. And we can make plans, and we should. But it’s important to remember that we’ll never have this moment again.

One way to be in the present moment is by noticing your surroundings. How often do you take time out of your day to look around and see what’s happening? When was the last time you sat down, closed your eyes, took a deep breath, and looked at everything around you?

How many of us appreciate the start of a new day? If it is dark when you arise in the morning and step outside, you will see a beautiful sky if you look up.

Be Grateful For What You Have Now

Part of living in the present moment is being grateful for what you have now, not in the past or future.2 If you are constantly focused on things you don’t have, you need to take the time to appreciate what you have right now.

One way to practice gratitude is to write a list of things you are grateful for and review that list daily. Try to write at least three things you are grateful for. Alternatively, you can do a gratitude rampage, writing out as many things as possible in a specific time.

Accept Things As They Are (Not How You Want Them to Be)

If you want to live in the present moment, you need to let go of how you think things should be and accept them for what they are. You cannot control everything around you; sometimes, life will be different than you want it to be. Practicing acceptance will help you let go of the things in your life that are out of your control.

Practice Mindfulness Meditation

One way to live more in the present is by practicing mindfulness meditation.3 This type of meditation helps people become aware and increases their concentration on what they are doing. Starting a daily meditation practice can help you become more aware of your thoughts and feelings, increasing your time in the present moment.

Spend Time With People Who Make You Feel Happy and Fulfilled

Spending time with people who make you feel happy and fulfilled can be a great way to help yourself live in the present moment. Surrounding yourself with positive, supportive people will increase your positivity and happiness levels. This will allow you to focus on what is going well right now instead of dwelling on past or future events.

Be Mindful of Everything You Do

How often are you eating your lunch while watching TV simultaneously? It would be best if you were mindful of whatever you are doing, from eating to scrolling your phone. This is one way you distance yourself from what you are doing and not live in the present because your attention is not on that task or activity.

Focusing on these details and being mindful of everything around you during a specific task or activity will help bring more present-moment awareness into your life.

Practice Deep Breathing Exercises

Sitting down and practicing a deep breathing exercise will help you focus on the task. Slow, regulated breaths help prevent feelings of panic or other negative thoughts from taking over while allowing for more control during the activity in which you are currently engaged. 

Take a Break From Social Media and Technology

Taking a break from social media and other technology can also help you stay more present-focused. While you might think that constantly checking your social media accounts is helping you stay connected to the world, it harms your ability to be present.

I will never forget when my wife and I were having dinner in a restaurant, and a family of four was at a nearby table. Mother, father, and two young teenage boys were silent, peering at their cell phones. My wife quietly commented that this looked like four strangers at the same table.

Those two boys will eventually leave home, and such moments may never exist again. Don’t be a stranger to yourself, your family, and your friends. Instead, embrace the now.

 

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