Mindfulness & Meditation
Many people get confused when talking about the present moment. After all there is only the present …. right? Past and future don’t really exist… they are just concepts and outcomes of our thinking mind. So why don’t we live more in the present moment?
Well most of us aren’t fully aware of the present because we like to control our experiences. Three often used control methods are avoidance, distraction and trying to think our way around things (often called worry or procrastination!)
‘Overriding the distraction reflex and awakening to the present takes awareness and practice.’
What is contained in the present moment?
Well lots and lots of things…so it’s best to choose to be aware of things that are beneficial for our well being, and drop the ones that are unhelpful. That makes sense!
1. Our breath resides in the present moment and reduces tension and anxiety when we focus on it.
2. What we see and hear is always in the present moment. Sense perception connects our body and mind (often through the heart) which reduces stress and increases wellness.
3. Things that we touch, smell and taste are in the present. A greater self awareness increases our performance of any activity we’re doing and cultivates a sense of flow and enjoyment.
4. Our bodies physical sensations, feelings, moods, thoughts and emotions occur in the moment.
‘Being more aware of the present is about learning to choose where we place our attention.’
Learning to live in the moment.
By building habits, triggers and practice schedules we can bring our attention purposefully into the present and focus on what is contained in the moment.
We learn to redirect attention away from the thinking mind into sensing the experience of the moment and automatically shift more into the observing mind (sometimes referred to as the self)
Our observing mind witnesses without judgement, criticism or worry but rather operates within stillness, calmness and peace.
A few short moments of conscious sensing is enough to lower feelings of stress, anxiety and emotional arousal whilst building happiness which is directly linked to our well being.
Practicing being present.
How to self-regulate and override avoidance and distraction tendencies?
1. Engage with your breath often as a point of focus
2. Encourage more perception of senses. i.e. consciously feel the touch of your hands, or notice the sounds around you. Shake and move your body regularly.
3. Utilize body sensations. i.e. redirect your awareness onto or into your body and pause on a sensation that draws your attention. Try to refrain from judgments (this is good or bad) but instead accept the experience of the moment and surrender more fully into it. Go into greater detail of emotions, pain or thoughts by curious observation and savoring.
We can only live one moment at a time, so we might as well make it the present one.