07 Jul When exactly IS the present moment?
Live in the present moment.
We’ve all heard the phrase.
But when exactly IS the present moment?
To get there, we need to understand what thoughts are.
I remember hearing that more people were afraid of speaking in front of an audience than of dying. But it seems that nowadays people are more afraid of being alone with their thoughts than anything else. I hate to break it to you but the only way to escape your thoughts is literally through death!
When did we become so afraid of what’s going on in our minds? We’ll literally do anything to distract ourselves just to avoid it.
So what are thoughts? Technically speaking, thoughts are an electrochemical reaction in your brain sending signals from one neuron to another. That doesn’t seem too scary now, does it?
When we think of a horrible event, like a car accident for example, it’s as if we’re right back there again. We’re in the car, hearing the screech of the tires, seeing the blur outside the window as the car spins around. Then hearing sirens, seeing strangers rush over to help you, feeling shaky as the panic sets in.
How can this be? You’re not in your car, you’re at home. You’re not spinning around, you’re standing still. The panic feels very real though. These are the scary thoughts we’re trying to avoid. But this isn’t the present moment, it’s just a memory or thought.
So where are you actually and what are you really seeing?
You’re in your home, in the kitchen making dinner. You can HEAR the water boiling, you can SMELL the food cooking, you can TASTE the ingredients and you can TOUCH the hot pan on the stove. THIS is where the present moment is. Our five senses are actually a direct link into the present moment.
Yes, our mind wanders and that’s a part of life but we can always pull it back as many times as we need to. Let the thoughts come and go like the rise and fall of your breath. Over time and with practice, it’ll become easier to live in the moment.
I always like to say, “Keep your brain with your body.” It’s an easy way to remember to keep those thoughts from going into the past or the future.
So, what does this look like on a daily basis?
Let’s take a workout for example. I’m running on the treadmill and I’m only supposed to think about what’s present but there’s a guy in front of me with mismatched socks and a weird haircut…I bet his wife cuts it…no he’s probably not married…he reminds me of my high school principal…
And just like that, your mind’s in the past.
Or I’m driving to work and I’m supposed to be concentrating on the road ahead but I need to make something for dinner tonite…I need a grocery list…how am I going to cook dinner before soccer practice…I’m sure no one will help with the dishes…
And now your mind’s in the future.
So how do you keep it in the present? I can’t focus on Mr. Mismatched Socks for an entire hour that’s for sure!
Something you can try is to focus on your breathing instead. Imagine every breath going in through your nose and coming out through your mouth. Picture your lungs filling up with air. In and out.
As you’re running on the treadmill, imagine all the muscles you are using. Pay attention to them. Can you FEEL each one as you move? Try to FEEL the blood pumping through your veins, the electricity running along your nerves and the heat coming off your body.
When you’re present and have your mind connected with your body, you’ll naturally increase your energy.
Now, imagine you’re texting and driving? You’re unable to give each activity your full awareness, which in turn drains your energy and is quite dangerous too.
Too many of us are living our lives online, worrying about the past or anxious about the future. That’s so incredibly draining. It’s impossible for your body to physically be in either of those places but it’s totally possible for you to LIVE IN THE MOMENT!
Try this easy little exercise today: for the next few hours, follow your thoughts and see how many times your mind goes to the past or the future. You might be surprised to see how often it really happens! Don’t be too hard on yourself with the results. You just need to practice.
You have a chance now to be more present, to connect your mind with your body and gain back your precious energy and focus.
Live in the moment.
To learn more about being present, read this post by Gabby Bernstein, How to Truly Live in the Moment.