We are always in a rush, on the go, or just plain busy. Before 2022 passes us by, (how is it almost February already??) read on for some tips on how to stop and look around and enjoy your life 'in the moment.'

THE ART OF

LIVING IN THE 'NOW'

Life unfolds in the present. But so often, we let the present slip away, allowing time to rush past unobserved and squandering the precious seconds of our lives.


When we're at work, we fantasize about being on vacation; on vacation, we worry about the work piling up on our desks. We dwell on intrusive memories of the past or fret about what may or may not happen in the future. We find it hard to appreciate (or flat out just don't appreciate) the living present moment; what's happening right in front of us.


Often, though, the “how to” part of 'being present' bit is omitted. You’re just told to be present, end of. Easy as that. Right? So no further instruction is necessary. Well… not quite. If it were that easy, we would all be doing it. We wouldn’t need to be told to do it. It would be the norm.


Living in the moment— also called mindfulness —is a state of active, open, intentional attention on the present. When you become mindful, you realize that you are not your thoughts; you become an observer of your thoughts from moment to moment without judging them. Mindfulness involves being with your thoughts as they are, neither grasping at them nor pushing them away. Instead of letting your life go by without living it, you awaken to experience.


There are many paths to mindfulness and ironically, letting go of what you want is the only way to get it. Here are a few tricks to help you along.

LOSE YOURSELF TO THE FLOW;

FOCUSED ATTENTION

When you give something your full attention, you induce a state of flow. Flow is a condition where your mind consists of an unbroken series of moments, either of targeted thought or non-thought. Live in the moment, in your own way. Examples: an author getting lost in their imaginary world; computer programmer deep in thousands of lines of code; skilled Buddhist nun meditation to the sound of a singing bowl - they are all in a state of flow.

LEARN SOMETHING NEW;

REQUIRES ATTENTION

Be aware that once learned, many things stop becoming doorways into the present because you are able to do them on autopilot. Take driving a car, for example; during the learning process, you have to pay full attention to what you are doing. Once mastered, you can steer, change gears, check your mirrors, and adjust speed without thinking. The goal is on continued lifelong learning that challenges your mind so that it has to remain focused and alert.

REMOVE THE CLOCK; 

BEING UNAWARE

If we clock-watch, we are not focused on what we are doing. We are anxious about how much or how little time we have left in an allotted period. Only by ignoring time itself can we learn how to be present in the moment. A worker who is bored and constantly checking the time cannot pay full attention to what they are doing. As a result, they find it harder to maintain their flow state and their day drags. Or, a worker with a deadline will always have one eye on the clock and their deadline comes sooner than anticipated. Forget the clock, keep your head down and simply work! Get yourself into the flow of work - be present - and you will accomplish more in the long run.

ANCHOR YOURSELF; 

BE SENSE AWARE

When you are not living in the moment, you’ll find that your senses are dulled. Think about how many times you’ve walked somewhere with a head full of thoughts and not remembered any of your journey. You don’t remember because you didn’t experience your senses of sight and sound and touch. We can use this to our advantage to bring our attention back to the present moment. If we focus on even just one our five senses, thoughts of the past or future are unable to take hold in our minds. Sit in a park on a warm sunny day and feel the sunlight on your skin; eat an orange slowly and experience the intense smell from the rind, the intense flavor of the juices. You can create an experiment for each of your senses: see, hear, taste, smell and touch. Do these things with a sense of purpose and do them often.

OBSERVE YOUR THOUGHTS; 

DON'T FIGHT YOUR FEELINGS

Don't judge yourself for your thoughts. Don't assume. Simply, observe what is passing through your mind. Allow yourself to be a third party of your own thoughts. View them as clouds passing on a beautiful summer day. Some clouds (thoughts) are light and fluffy. Some clouds (thoughts) are dark and stormy. Either way, allow the clouds/thoughts to simply float on by. You notice it, accept it as a thought (because that's what it is, just a thought) and let it pass you. Observe. Don't judge, dwell, or snowball. Allow yourself to feel what each thought provokes inside you, but let it float by. Don't punish yourself for a feeling/thought, you aren't weak or stupid for having emotions, you're human!

Bringing your awareness to the present moment or being in the flow is something that can become a habit. The more you achieve it, the easier it becomes, and the more you’ll find yourself doing it naturally.

So wherever you are at any given time, see if you can find an activity that will take you into the present moment. Whether that’s simple breathing exercises, yoga, learning something new, getting lost in music, or something else.

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