The practice of being present, also known as mindfulness, is advocated for by doctors and spiritual practitioners alike. Many mental health struggles such as anxiety and depression stem from either dwelling on regrets of the past or worrying about the future. Centering yourself in the present moment allows you to let go of everything that isn’t here and now. Research has shown people who regularly practice mindfulness are happier, healthier, and more compassionate. Many people mistakenly believe that mindfulness requires deep meditation or years of spiritual practice, but there are things you can do right now that will anchor you in the moment and allow you to experience the immediate benefits of mindfulness.
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4 Things to Help You Be Present Right Now
1. Focus on Your Breath
This is the most common tip you will hear in discussions of mindfulness, as well as the first step in learning to meditate. It may sound simple, but focusing on your breath is a powerful way to begin to work on the body-mind connection. Breath is always happening, whether you think about it or not. Your breath can anchor you to the present moment by allowing you to witness your body in action, as it effortlessly keeps you alive by delivering oxygen to every cell. You can observe your breath with multiple senses by listening to the flow of air, watching your chest expand and retract, and feeling the sensations in your body. You can stop and focus on your breath anywhere and at any time, allowing you to slow down your mind and become entirely present. Although it is not necessary to alter your breath while being mindful of your breathing, there are various breathing techniques you can learn that may help you to focus and relax.
2. Use All Five Senses
A great tool for bringing yourself into the present moment is to consciously observe your surroundings using all five senses. If you are sitting in the doctor’s office, for example, worrying about your upcoming appointment and checking off your mental to-do list, you can use this tool to calm your mind. Notice what you see around you by looking at every detail of the room. Listen to the sounds of your environment. Can you hear people talking behind the closed door? Is there music playing? What does the waiting room smell like? Is there a candle or air freshener? Observe the texture of the chair you are sitting on by feeling it on your skin. Perhaps if you are lucky, there will be a candy bowl nearby to help you check off the fifth sense of taste! Enlist as many senses as possible in the moment. We are often so lost in thought we hardly notice our surroundings. Experiencing what is around you with all five senses will bring you into the present moment in a mindful, intentional way.
3. Ask Someone How They Are Doing
It can be so easy to become wrapped up in our own problems. So much so, that when we talk to other people, we tend to only talk about ourselves. Even when we engage in back and forth conversations, research has shown that most people do not effectively listen, but instead spend most of their time thinking about what they are going to say next. A good way to bring yourself into the moment while also improving your listening skills is to ask someone how they are doing, and listen to the reply. This means clearing your mind of your own troubles, opinions, and updates on your life, and focusing only on what the other person has to say. Ask relevant questions about their life and problems, and refrain from comparing them to your own. Giving someone your undivided attention naturally pulls you into the present moment, and turns you into a better friend.
4. Get Moving
The next time you find yourself lost in anxious thoughts or feeling overwhelmed with regret, move your body. Run, dance, swim or jump up and down. Keep going until your heart rate elevates and you begin to sweat. As children, we would often take off at a sprint for no reason, not stopping to rest until we were utterly exhausted. You can tap into that blissful adrenaline rush at any time by being active and pushing your body physically. There are a wide variety of physical benefits from regular exercise, but exerting yourself also forces you to become entirely present. When you must push yourself to run further, swim harder, or dance for one more song, you don’t have the mental energy to worry about tomorrow or replay past mistakes. You are in the moment and enjoying the rush of happiness-inducing chemicals surging through your brain, thanks to the wonderful effects of being active.