I'm a big advocate of being present. I've found that it's one of the most effective ways to get out of my head and be more productive. In fact, in my day job as a marketer, I'm constantly encouraging other people (and myself) to be more present. so guess what? now that I'm telling you how important it is, it's time for me to practice what I preach! if you want to be more present but aren't sure how here are seven methods you can use:
practice mindfulness meditation.
mindfulness meditation is the simple practice of focusing your attention on the present moment, rather than on thoughts about past or future events. you can do this by meditating for five minutes each day, or by practicing mindfulness throughout your daily life. for example, mindfully eating a raisin is a great way to practice mindfulness meditation. instead of eating with distractions like TV or music in the background, you would focus all of your attention on taking small bites and chewing slowly. instead of thinking about how many more calories there are left in that cookie bag on the counter, you would focus only on how delicious that first bite tastes.
if your mind wanders away from these thoughts and into thoughts about what you need to get done that day or what happened at work yesterday afternoon instead—that's okay! this is one reason why practicing mindfulness can be so helpful: it allows us to notice when we're not being fully present (in other words: thinking too much), which allows us to bring ourselves back into the here and now instead of getting stuck in a cycle where we constantly feel like we're running behind ourselves all day long!
work with your breath
breathing is a natural way to calm down. if you're feeling stressed, take a moment and focus on your breathing. breathe in through your nose and out through your mouth, slowly and steadily—and if thoughts begin to wander, bring them back to your breath as soon as possible. pay attention not just to the action of breathing but also to the sensations of air passing in and out of your body; try feeling the rise and fall of your chest or stomach with each inhalation or exhalation.
as well as calming you down, this practice can help improve focus by bringing attention away from outside stimuli (which might be overwhelming) onto something that's always there: our body's natural rhythms.
take notice of what you're doing
one way to become more present is by consciously noticing what you're doing. try it out:
- notice the things that are going on around you. notice your surroundings and environment, whether it's a busy sidewalk or a quiet room.
- take notice of the people around you—what are they talking about? what are they wearing? how do they smell? are there any children playing in the park nearby?
- pay attention to your own body, especially its sensations. for example, notice how your feet feel against the ground as you walk down the street; feel how warm or cold it is outside; listen for sounds made by birds chirping or cars driving by; smell coffee brewing somewhere nearby as well as other smells brought into being by weather conditions (i.e., heat).
be aware of your thoughts
there's a lot of talk about being present, but what does it mean to be in the moment? What does it look like, and how can we get there?
being more mindful (or aware) of your thoughts is one way to practice presence. mindfulness meditation is all about noticing the content of our thoughts, not just the fact that we have them. so instead of ruminating on negative self-talk, we can pay attention to our own brains' inner monologues by asking ourselves questions like: "what am I thinking right now?" or "what am I feeling in my body?" this kind of awareness is also used as a form of therapy for anxiety disorders because it helps you shift away from repetitive negative thought patterns.
break the habit of constant distraction
distraction is a habit that can be hard to break, but it can be done. it's all about training your brain to focus on the present moment. this means noticing when your attention is wandering and redirecting it back to where you are. if something is distracting you at work, try closing all browser tabs except for the one containing what you're working on; if someone is talking in a loud voice nearby at school or work, try asking them if they can speak more quietly; if you spend too much time on social media, try deleting some apps from your phone and installing an app like Momentum (iOS) or StayFocusd (Chrome) which limits how long you spend scrolling through Twitter feeds during certain hours of the day.
there are many ways to break this habit—you just have to practice being present over and over again until it becomes second nature!
you may think that you're too busy to practice gratitude, but it's one of the easiest and best ways to be present in your life. gratitude can help you feel happier (and therefore more relaxed), have healthier relationships, and even improve how patient you are. research shows that practicing gratitude regularly is associated with greater calmness and reduced levels of depression.
be kinder to yourself. many people find it difficult to practice gratitude when they're going through something difficult because they believe they don't deserve happiness or success yet—but this isn't true! being kinder towards yourself allows us all to appreciate what we have now instead of focusing on what we don't have yet.
pay attention to the sights, sounds, and smells around you.
when it comes to practicing mindfulness, this is a good place to start. you're probably already familiar with focusing on your senses to calm down when you're feeling stressed out or overwhelmed by something. it can also be useful in making sure that you're living in the moment rather than just existing from one task to another without really noticing things along the way. try doing this on a walk outside or while sitting at your desk: Listen for background noises (the birds chirping outside?).
what do they sound like? how does that sound to make you feel? smell anything? is there anything unique about it? notice how all of these sensations affect your body as well as how they make you feel emotionally—calmly amused by the bird song or more aware of how tense and tired everything feels after being stuck indoors all day long!
you can practice being more present to be more present.
you can use the practice of being present to practice being more present, which will help you develop the ability to focus on what’s happening right now and see what’s going on around you. this means that you won't miss out on important details when they happen, which is something we all need to do at times.
I hope you’ve found this post helpful. sometimes when you boil down something to its essence, it makes it easier to accomplish—and if nothing else, practicing these seven tips will help you feel more at peace with yourself and your surroundings.
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