Does your mind wander?
Do you find yourself daydreaming?
Do you ever lose concentration?
According to Dr. Robert Thum, being in the present moment, or the here and now, means that we are aware and mindful of what is happening at this very moment. We are not distracted by ruminations on the past or worries about the future, but centered in the here and now. All of our attention is focused on the present moment.
I don’t know about you, but that is a challenge for me. I am constantly thinking about what I forgot to do yesterday, what I still need to cross off my “to-do” list today and looking to what is coming down the pike next week.
How can it be so hard to stay in the moment? Living in the “now” is difficult because we are encouraged to think about the future or dwell on our past. Advertisements, reminders, notifications, messages and alerts are often geared toward the past or the future. Commercials are designed to pull on our heart strings, trigger nostalgia, or make us want to look youthful. I still have those jeans. The ones I can’t bear to part with because I am convinced I will eventually fit back into them. Advertisements filled with the promise of feeling young again, filled with energy or having more money in retirement. You know everyone has tried some concoction to try to hold on to their vim and vigor.
Think about how often you are busy doing something, I mean 100% fully absorbed in it, when you are derailed from your flow by an alert on your phone (this happens to me on the reg). More times than not, that message or notification doesn’t help in your quest to stay present and aware. (Who are we kidding? It never helps to become more present.)
This may not seem like an issue to you, but being mindful of the present has direct health benefits. Dr. Kenneth Halliwell explains that being present and exerting our ability to be mindful not only makes us happier, it can also help us deal with pain more effectively, reduce our stress and decrease its impact on our health, and improve our ability to cope with negative emotions like fear and anger.
Learning to be present in the moment is a process. Try the following five steps to start your journey.
1. Designate a specific time in your day to focus on what’s in front of you. This works best if you select a time of the day or a specific activity that you can focus on.
2.When you realize that you’re drifting off, bring your mind back. Each time it tries to sneak off, practice self-talk. Just say, “No, I’m doing that right now. I’ll get back to worrying later.”
3. During a time when you are trying to bring yourself back to the present, ask yourself, “What do I hear, see, taste, feel and smell?”
4. Try some self-reflection and movement. Yoga (I love Tina Porier’s class Monday and Wednesday nights at 43°North) is a great option to be mindful and present.
5. Be patient with yourself. Small changes over time = big results.
(Crystal Reynolds is an owner of 43 Degrees North Athletic Club.)