Now. Such a simple word, such a powerful moment where there is no stress, no expectation, only endless possibilities. And yet ‘now’ is gone before you even finish uttering the word. Now is the moment of power in our lives, it’s the point where we can make change. It’s also a beautiful pool of tranquility where we can go anytime we want and we can stay as long as we wish.
So how do we learn how to live in the moment’, how do we remain in and enjoy the ‘now’? How do we stop our errant minds from drifting into memories, good or bad, or dwelling on worries or plans for the future? All it takes is a little practice a little commitment, and these five simple techniques.
Do one thing at a time
If you want to live in the present moment then start single-tasking. Multi-tasking should become a thing of the past, only used when absolutely necessary and for a short, pre-defined period of time. Cultivate the habit of doing and concentrating on just one thing at a time, whether at work or, just as importantly, during your leisure time. Make a new habit of really tasting your food when you’re eating, really noticing scenery or surroundings, really concentrating on the person you are speaking with, really engaging, second to second, in the present. You will need to be vigilant as the habit of multi-tasking is entrenched in our culture. Small changes will help enormously such as putting your phone away when you’re watching television, closing multiple tabs on your browser, switching of the television when reading. Try to decide, moment to moment, which task should take your undivided attention and then give it your all.
Probably the most important technique in learning how to live in the moment is to slow down. Become aware of the speed with which you do everything and aim to slow it down. It doesn’t have to be a big change, the important thing is to notice, to take a deep breath and bring yourself into the present moment. A slight slowing will help to relax you and make you more conscious of what you are doing. Tasks will be more satisfying and more precisely undertaken. And they really won’t take much longer to accomplish – your sense of time will slow down so you will feel less rushed and have the impression that the day stretches out and you have more than enough time to accomplish your goals.
Talk to yourself
Talk to yourself… in a specific way! Develop an internal monologue where you say ‘Now I am…’ and tell yourself which activity you are absorbed in. For example, when you are at the sink, say to yourself ‘Now I am washing up’ then ‘Now I am wiping the counter tops’. You do not need to do this constantly, of course, but develop the habit intermittently through the day. This technique will help you to focus on one thing at a time and really pull you into the present moment.
Simplify your mornings
Start the day with the simplest routine and avoid information overload. Do a mindfulness meditation or some yoga, drink a coffee while looking at the sky – keep it calm and simple and this will set the tone for the rest of your day. If you wake up and plough straight into multiple tabs on your phone, social media, television programs, newspaper articles and numerous emails, you will overload your mind and find the day will follow in that vein. This simple technique really helped me to learn how to live in the moment.
Designate and use a ‘stop’ word
Find a personal word that you say to yourself when you notice you are overloaded or drifting too much into thoughts of the future or the past. Just say ‘stop’ to yourself, or ‘breathe’ or whatever word works for you. Use this word to be strict with yourself, setting a hard limit and making yourself stop and get right into the present moment again.
The real secret to living in the moment is practice – you have probably spent a lifetime up to now just allowing your mind to wander wherever it wants. It will take some time to change this habit and replace it with a new way of thinking but even the smallest effort will quickly be repaid with a new sense of calm and fulfilment. Take small steps, make small changes and the rewards will be enormous.
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