You’d be forgiven for rolling your eyes when stumbling across yet another blog post about being ‘present’. This word has been bandied about so much lately that it’s easy to dismiss it as just another wellness buzzword, but there’s more to this concept than meditation and hashtags.
What is being present?
Simply put, what this means is making an active choice to stop constantly thinking about either the past or the future and instead focus on the present moment, the here and now. The world famous spiritual teacher, Eckhart Tolle says you must ‘Realise deeply that the present moment is all you ever have.’
Why should you care about being more present in your life?
‘What’s so wrong with reminiscing about great times from my past or making plans for my future!?’ I hear you cry. Honestly, there’s nothing wrong with thinking about the past or planning for the future from time to time, but if you find yourself living almost entirely in the past or the future it will create
a constant state of longing – something that Buddists would define as the root of all suffering.
‘Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment.’ Buddha
The benefits of being more present
‘When you are present in this moment, you break the continuity of your story, of past and future. Then true intelligence arises, and also love.’ – Eckhart Tolle
You don’t need to be The Buddha himself to grasp that repeatedly reliving past failures or spending all your time daydreaming about the future won’t lead to a very satisfying existence. By actively practising being present you will find that you start to appreciate your world and your life much more and it often creates a space within yourself that fosters creativity.
How do I actually become more present then?
You don’t need to run off to a £6,000 yoga retreat in Bali or join the next big spirituality cult to start practising being present. Here are some quick and easy ways to feel more present in your daily life that won’t cost you a penny.
1. Close your eyes and try to think about how you know if your hands are still there
This is one of Tolle’s tricks! If you are feeling overwhelmed with your thoughts this little exercise will help you quiet the chatter in your head as you focus solely on feeling your own hands and the energy around them.
2. Look up at the sky
Actually take notice of how vast it is, how much space there is above you.
3. Focus on your breathing for 5 minutes
Breathe in and breathe out, in and out. It’s a little known fact that humans can’t multitask; it is actually impossible for us to focus on two things at once. If you are thinking carefully about your own breathing, how the air feels as it enters your nose and moves down into your lungs, you will not be able to think about anything else like that awkward moment at work earlier or how much fun the weekend is going to be.
4. Make a mental list of things you are grateful for in this very moment
Your family, your friendships, your body, your mind, music, art, nature…
5. Limit your screen time
We all know social media can be super toxic and addictive so try to decrease how much time you spend scrolling. This will help to curb your desire and allow you to focus on being more present.
6. Take your headphones out
Listen to the noises around you, the conversations being had, life going on. Marvel at it!Taking small steps like these to help you focus on what’s going on around you will help you feel calmer and more at peace with yourself and the world.