Have you moved from one room at home to another and when you got there you can’t remember what you were doing? Have you got distracted by your phone or the television and someone is upset with you because you didn’t respond in a conversation? Do you get in the car, drive to work and can’t remember the trip? I have done all of these things!
Why is it hard to be in the present moment, noticing and enjoying each moment? Our mind is constantly thinking and chatting away to us. When we do notice what is around us the mind identifies, analyses, compares, judges and resists. Add to this – we live in a chaotic world where we are bombarded by noise and distractions. There is also the expectation we are always contactable so we have our electronic devices nearby. A quick check to see if anyone has contacted us turns in into browsing social media and an hour or two quickly passes. I think you can see why we are easily distracted and lose our focus.
Practicing mindfulness assists us to become fully present. It enables us to be aware of where we are and what we are doing. While mindfulness is something we all naturally possess, it’s more readily available to us when we practice on a daily basis.
Whenever you bring awareness to what you’re directly experiencing via your senses, or to your state of mind via your thoughts and emotions, you’re being mindful. There’s growing research to show when you train your brain to be mindful, you’re actually remodelling the physical structure of your brain.
At lunch today I got leftovers out of the fridge and prepared my lunch. I then put my plated food to be heated back in the fridge and my container of fridge leftovers into the microwave. This made me stop and laugh out loud at myself as I was in the middle of writing a blog about being present! It was a reminder to have fun with this and enjoy being human. Don’t be hard on yourself if some days your thoughts are all over the place. Just notice this, take a few big breaths and bring yourself back to the here and now.
This afternoon I delivered a couple of bags of groceries to my daughter as my granddaughter has COVID and they are isolating. After a lovely catch up with them through the window, I got back in my car and it wouldn’t start. I had a chat to my son in law (through the window) and he thought it was the battery but didn’t have the right jumper leads for my car. I rang my other daughter and she sent my son in law (who had the right jumper leads) to start my car. I started to feel anxious as I wanted to get home and complete a number of jobs. My daughter invited me to sit in the front garden out of the sun and wait for my son in law to arrive. I decided to take the opportunity to sit and be present. I looked up at the sky, felt the warmth of the day and enjoyed watching the world around me. By the time my son in law arrived I was feeling so much better and able to enjoy time with my grandson while he took care of my car. If I’d stayed in an anxious state, I might have missed the joy of hanging out with my 3-year-old grandson. Even thinking about our 15 minutes together yesterday lifts my mood and makes me smile.
Some suggestions on how to bring yourself into the present moment:
Connect with nature
- Take a walk
- Sit in a garden or a park
- Go for a family bush walk
- Go to the beach, have a swim
Focus on your breath
Deep breathing and other breathing exercises help you remember to take a moment and mindfully connect with your surroundings. Breathe in slowly, focusing on the sensation of your lungs expanding and filling with air, notice your breath entering and leaving your nostrils.
You might find these breathing exercises particularly helpful while driving in traffic (eyes open for this one 😊) or during other times of stress. Breathing exercises can help you ground yourself and help you avoid distracting yourself further by ruminating on worries or picking up your phone.
Connect with your senses that you have the ability to connect with
- Taste – savour the taste of your morning tea or coffee
- Touch – relish the softness of your sheets when you get into bed, enjoying the warmth of the water on your skin as you shower or wash your hands
- Sound – listen for distant sounds, put on music, listen to birdsong
- Sight – notice the colours around you, the trees, the flowers, your children, your animals
- Smell – stop and smell the roses 😊, the salty smell of the ocean, the smell of the food you are eating, eg a piece of fruit,
By taking time to consider and reflect on your appreciation for aspects of your life, you’re also paying more attention to them. We often feel grateful for something until we’re in danger of losing it. Even if you feel you don’t have much to be grateful for try to find something, like:
- Hot, running water
- Your loved ones
- A roof over your head
- A working internet
Being mindful and coming into the present moment is about making what you’re doing now the most important thing. This matters as the present moment is the only one in which we can act, create, problem solve or influence. When you are in the present moment you allow space for your intuition to guide you rather than being influenced by unhelpful beliefs and emotions and/or being stuck dwelling in the past or worrying about the future.
Working with a coach gives you the space to stop and be present to thoughts and opinions you may have about yourself or others that are holding you back from living a life you love. I would love to help you take that next step in getting there!