Do you ever get to where you are going and realize you don’t remember walking or driving there? Do you have conversations with other people but can’t remember what was said afterwards? Do you eat meals but don’t really pay attention to what you are eating or how it tastes? Does the end of the day come and you don’t really remember what you did or feel like you accomplished anything you set out to? Do you feel like you are fully experiencing where you are and what you are doing? It is common for people today to always be thinking about the future, what they have to do later, what they need to get done for the day, what they will say during a conversation, what the next step is, etc. Our minds are constantly on overdrive and thinking about so many things at once, how can we possibly be present in the moment and experience what is going on? It is even harder to do when you add in all the technological distractions and attachments to social media. All of these distractions and lack of focus can increase one’s stress, lack of motivation or productivity, and displeasure in what is going on or lack of enjoyment in their lives.
Being mindful and living in the moment can help to reduce stress, improve overall well-being, improve focus and attention, increase productivity, improve relationships, and help to enjoy life more. It is not something many people are used to doing, so understand that it is going to take time and perseverance, there will be setbacks and frustrations, but you can learn to become more mindful and present. Eventually, with a few steps and patience, it will become almost automatic and you won’t even realize the change that has taken place, you will just be experiencing life more and have greater fulfillment.
Focus your attention. The first step is to monitor your thoughts, what is going on in your head, notice when your mind starts to wander, what distracts you or has your attention, what you are thinking about, and what you are feeling. Don’t judge your thoughts or emotions, but rather acknowledge them and let them go. It will take time and practice, and patience, but don’t get discouraged. Keep trying to focus on something in the moment, even if small in the beginning, such as your breath, the sounds around you, or the physical sensation of sitting or taking each step as you are walking. Once you are able to have more focus and attention on what is going on within and around you, you will be able to have better control over your thoughts and emotions.
Bring yourself back to the present. Once you become comfortable monitoring your thoughts and emotions, you will become better at noticing when your mind starts to wander. You will be able to bring your thoughts and focus back to the present and what is going on in the moment. Notice your breath, how it feels to be sitting or standing, the physical sensations you are feeling, what you are hearing around you, and what you are truly experiencing in the moment. Keep reminding yourself to be here now. All that matters is the current moment, not the past or the future, just right now. Your mind will wander again, but don’t judge or get frustrated, again just acknowledge it and come back to the present moment.
Live in the moment. Eventually it will become more routine and automatic to live in the moment. You will start to realize that, without prompting, you are noticing the sounds around you, the people you are passing on the streets, what you are feeling and doing, your attention and concentration increase, and hopefully your stress decrease. You will experience what is going on in the moment and not thinking or worrying about anything else. Remember though, this is an ongoing process and there will of course be times when your focus wanders or you have too much on your mind. But that’s okay, you now have the tools and skills to come back to there here and now, just keep it up! Just like any other skill, you have to keep doing it to stay good at it.
It may seem difficult in the beginning, or not worth the effort, but just give it a try. You can live in the moment and have greater enjoyment in life. So put down that phone, mentally store away the to do list, forget about the future, and live in the NOW!