I write about practicing mindfulness because it's hard to be in the moment when there's so much around us that's distracting; work, family, and the ever-present TikTok. Yet, we don't want to feel that life has passed us by because we didn't take the time to enjoy any of it. When I take a few minutes to center myself in the here and now, I find it helps alleviate anxiety about the future. So here are a few effective ways to keep us in the present.
- Breathe: I know you're breathing already, but I'm talking about deep, slow breaths filling your belly. Try this, breathe in through your nose for a count of four. Next, hold your breath for a count of four. Now, exhale through your mouth for a count of four. This exercise will help you relax, focus on what's in front of you, and give you a much-needed break. We tend to hold our breath throughout the Day and not realize how that allows tension to build. Taking time to focus on our breathing helps us to stay present.
- Stretch: Take five minutes and focus on your body. Inhale as you raise your arms over your head and exhale as you lower your arms to your sides. Slowly move your neck toward your shoulders, look up to the ceiling, and then down to your toes. Roll your hips around, bend your knees, and roll them in a circle. Do what feels comfortable to remove any built-up anxiety in your body. Being aware of how your body feels helps you to be mindful.
- Practice Paying Attention: It's more complicated than you think. We are either reminiscing or predicting our future. Either way, we aren't in the present. One trick is to set a timer that will go off every hour. When you hear the chime, write down what you're thinking about at that time. Is it the work at hand, or are you on a beach sipping a lovely margarita? If you're actually at the beach, good for you! Otherwise, bring yourself back to the present.
- Meditation: Starting with ten minutes a day will do wonders for your state of mind as well as your body. This ancient practice helps us become mindful by bringing awareness to our myriad thoughts that zoom in and out of our consciousness. It's like being in a rodeo and finding a way to keep our butts in the saddle. Little by little, our thoughts will settle down, and we'll be able to concentrate on the sensations of our energy and find a sense of peace within. Meditation is the best way to appreciate everyday moments.
- Gratitude: When taking a walk, pay attention to what's in front of you. Feel the sun on your skin, and watch how the light dances off the leaves of a tree. Listen to the sounds around you; dogs barking, cars honking, a baby laughing. Think about what you're grateful for; family, friends, health, and well-being.
Everything in Your Life has Brought You to this Day, and When You Appreciate that, You'll Find Being Present is a Beautiful Gift to Yourself.