We all need practices that help bring us to the present. The present is where we can connect to our inner light, get in touch with our true self, and fully enjoy all that the world has to offer. If we focus too much on the past or the future, we become constrained by our thoughts or worries. If we live in auto-pilot, existing outside of the present moment, we neglect the wonders that exist right in front of us.
When we find ways to bring ourselves to the present, we have the power to transform our lives.
By existing in the now, we can observe our feelings and thoughts from a different perspective. Rather than allowing ambient stimuli and situations to influence us, we can mindfully react, and behave more thoughtfully.
The practices that allow us to cultivate true presence are vital for living a mindful, enlivened life. While we may each have unique ways to access the present, there are many popular practices you can try, including the following:
Meditation is one of the most often-cited practices for connecting to the present—and for good reason. By allowing yourself to sit in meditation on a regular basis, you can cultivate a deeper connection to your inner self, and enrich the quality of your life in the present. In his 2004 Ted Talk, Buddhist monk Matthieu Ricard described the powerful effects of meditation:
“Mind transformation—that is the very meaning of meditation. It means familiarization with a new way of being, new way of perceiving things, which is more in adequation with reality, with interdependence, with the stream and continuous transformation, which our being and our consciousness is.”
Meditation doesn’t require some lengthy, ritualistic approach. You can do it in the comfort of any quiet space that is free of distractions, and it can be done in as little as a few minutes. Simply find a comfortable seated position, close your eyes, and pay attention to the sensation of your breath leaving and exiting your lungs. This close attention to breath is the key to fully entering the present. If your mind wanders, simply bring your attention to your breath, and treat yourself with kindness and without judgement.
A walk around your neighborhood, or a more intense hike at your favorite natural spot, can help connect you to the present. Leave your phone on silent, fight the urge to listen to some music or your favorite podcast, and just focus on what is around you. Bring mindful attention to each step you take, and fully exist as you are in this moment.
You don’t always need to set aside time to go on a hike or walk—you can mindfully move through your daily tasks. Be present in your movements as you are walking from your car to your work, or as you are browsing through the grocery store. Injecting mindfulness into our daily tasks is one of the most accessible ways to enliven our lives.
How often do you prepare meals with the TV blaring in the background, or while checking your phone every minute? We often find ways to distract ourselves as we make our food, but cooking actually gives us an opportunity to strengthen our mindfulness and connection to the present. Turn off your distractions, and pay attention to every movement and step. Notice the feeling of dicing tomatoes, watching a pot of water slowly come to boil, or plating your favorite dish. Continue the mindful practice as you go on to eat your mindfully prepared meal.
As you look for ways to enliven your life, ask yourself: what activities do you take part in that make you feel truly connected to the present? How can you add more mindful practices to your everyday life?
We have some wonderful ways to enliven your life with our Summer Program, FOCUSED 2020.
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