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Living in the moment, being fully present.



Our brain is a three-pound computer that produces approximately 70,000 thoughts per day. It is not a surprise that some people are all over the place. It moves our attention at remarkable speed from past to future and back. Constantly shifting us between the past and the future, neither of which exists. Bringing grievances from the past and anxiety of the future to the front burner. This rocks our inner peace and distracts us from our daily activities. It affects our professional and personal lives, preventing us from finding joy and happiness in the present.

We understand the importance of being in the moment, but the hardest part is to catch ourselves when we are not. Catch ourselves when we start to follow the thoughts that bring us into the past or guide us to the future. That creates separation between our body and our mind. Our body is still in the present, but our mind is attached to the thoughts and is miles away. This disconnect robs us of the ability to enjoy the present fully. When we experience this disconnect, we walk without seeing clouds and trees, eat without recognizing flavors, or talk to people without paying attention to their emotional state.


What steps can we take to come back to the present? First is understanding that we have limited control over our thoughts. We recognize them as they come and let them go. The trick is not to attach ourselves to our thoughts. It is not about controlling our thoughts but not allowing them to control us. The easiest way to return to the present is to focus on our surroundings. For a big part of the day, we are driving, walking, or doing routine tasks on autopilot mode. Look around, try to see, and discover something new in our environment.

Many times, when we are in the present, we enter the state of flow. People from many walks of life, from athletes to artists, scientists to craftsmen, have had this experience. We all experienced that moment when we are fully in the present, when time does not exist anymore. Being in the present is a blurred line between us and our environment, making us part of the vast universe. At this moment, stress, judgments, and sorrow disappear, leaving only appreciation of the magic of being alive. When we are in the present, we form different reactions to stressful situations; we become less confrontational with other people. We become able, what Buddhists call, to recognize the spark before the flame, to have a pause between the situation and our response.


There are a few techniques to bring us to the present moment.


Give a Fresh Look at Your Surroundings

You can be in your kitchen or the office, in the metro or grocery store, looking around with a fresh eye.

  • What is the predominant color?

  • What looks out of place?

  • What is the texture of the objects?

  • What is there that you forgot you have?

  • What do you hear?


Be mindful when you eat.

Eliminate all distractions when you eat; no cellphones, books, or TV. Focus on your meal.

  • Are you mindfully chewing or eager to swallow?

  • What is the temperature of your food?

  • What colors do you see on your plate?

  • How does texture differentiate from one ingredient to another?

  • What do you taste?

  • Can you name the flavors?

When we practice mindful eating, we are not only in the moment but also bring more appreciation to the food we consume.


When you are outdoors

Do not use your walk to review your to-do list or make 10K steps. Make it a walking meditation. Engage all your senses.

  • What do we feel under our feet? Name it.

  • Do we feel the breeze? Describe it.

  • What sounds do we hear? Near, far, the lowest, and the highest pitch.

  • What do you smell?


Try breathwork

Breathwork is excellent for regulating/calming our emotions, heart rate, blood pressure, and other health issues. But it can also return us to the present moment when our mind wanders around. It is worth trying breathing meditation or breathwork. We cannot breathe in the past or in the future – our breath is always in the present. Our breath is a grounding force that unites the spirit and the body.


Conclusion

Being in the present means realizing what the phrase "Just for today" means right now. Not in the next 24 hours but in this moment because this moment will never be repeated. Most of the day, we live in our heads. So, guide your thoughts to the present moment. Please don’t follow them into the rabbit hole of the past or the future.


With love,

Roman

December 1, 2023

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