Being engaged with life, present in each moment and connected, forms the basis of mindfulness. It forms the cornerstone of the practice of meditation – to listen with kindness, stay open minded and free from judgement. We often hear people around us say, “I want to be more present.” But what does that look like in reality? Can present moment meditation help?
Let’s break it down
- Being present means having an unwavering focus on one thing or one emotion that you’re feeling, especially the challenging ones.
- The more we practice being present, the more comfortable we feel navigating difficult situations and emotions.
- Mindfulness and present moment meditation help us notice thoughts and feelings when they come up – the first step in learning how to be more present.
But what does it mean to be more present?
On a micro level, being present means to be focused on one thing. A conversation, a project, a task in hand without distraction, without the desire to be somewhere else, without being in your head, lost in thought.
At a deeper level, it means to be able sit with your challenging emotions as and when you feel them, unchanged. This is what meditation teaches over the course of time. When you sit and take a deep breath, or when you’re triggered by circumstances in your everyday life, turn to meditation.
To be more present with happiness, feel joy. To be present with anger, feel angry. To be more present with sadness, feel sad. To be more present with anxiety, feel anxious. Feel every emotion. And then, once you’ve truly felt it, you’re better equipped to let that emotion go without feeling overwhelmed by it and messing with your mood that day.
However, anchoring yourself to the present moment is easier said than done, especially when people tend to dwell on yesterday or worry about tomorrow. Present moment meditation helps bridge the gap between our learnings from the past and our hope from the future and brings our awareness back to the present.
Does that mean you stop thinking of the future?
Being present is always the goal. But sometimes you may notice a recurring restlessness or indecision throughout the day. Lean on mindfulness and keep your goal in mind that you need to accomplish. The idea of being in the present moment while having a goal for the future might seem counterintuitive but cultivating the skill of being present is key to achieving your goals.
When you understand the importance of living in the moment, you can maximize your results for any given pursuit using mental acuity, versus just physical. It’s all about how you show up, which is where the practice of being present comes in.
The question arises, how can you be more present?
1. Do present moment meditation
When you do a body scan meditation – mentally scan how your body is feeling from head to toe. Bring your awareness to every ache, pain, or sensation you might be feeling. When you breathe, you are learning to sit in the present moment and pay attention to every physical and emotional feeling that comes to light. Be mindful that the goal is not to change the way you’re feeling, but simply noticing how you feel – the first step in becoming present.
2. Appreciate the moment
It’s never easy to live in the present. There’s always something coming up that you need to prepare for or anticipate, and our lives are so well-documented that it’s never been easier to get lost in the past. Step away from the past, leave behind worry for the future. Find a sense of appreciation for the present moment. Let it change your outlook and the way you tackle situations. The benefit of learning how to live in the moment allows you to develop a sense of trust in yourself.
3. Deal with distractions
Create a calm environment when trying to be more present. Think about how often you’re jolted out of your thought flow by a sudden “ding” on your phone. So, take a step away and spend quality time, away from screens and external stimulations, with the ones you love. Find great joy in every experience.
Take a pause from the noise of life and learn to be in the moment with this mini break.
If you can be present in this moment, you will soon find an increasing sense of confidence, an ease with both comfort and discomfort, difficulty and joy. Track your progress towards greater mindfulness. It’s a great idea to write about your daily effort to be mindful and end each day on the right note.