Life unfolds in the now. But so often we let ‘now’ slip away as we worry about the future and stress of the past. When we’re at work, we think about our holidays; during our holidays, we worry about our overflowing inboxes. We rethink about past mistakes and worry about what might happen in the future.
We’re always doing something. But we need to learn how to be more present in the moment. When you are present, you realise that you are not your thoughts, and you become an observer of your thoughts instead.
Mindful people are happier, more empathetic, and more secure. Anchoring awareness in the present reduces the kinds of impulsive and reactive behaviours that underlie depression, binge eating, and attention deficits. You learn to cope with stress and move on.
Here are some ways you can practice the art of being present…
Forget About It
Learning to meditate is about directing your thinking. If you focus on anxiety or something that is stressing you out, you’ll only amplify those negative feelings. A daily meditation – even for five minutes – teaches you to forget about it and stop overthinking.
Move Your Body
To really get out of that mental spiral, set your body in motion. Exercise is a well-known stress-buster. Challenging your body is the perfect way to be present – you can’t think about much else when you’re on your twentieth bridge!
Over time, exercise has been shown to increase your focus and enhance your mood. It’s basically meditation in motion!
Breathe and Break the Cycle
We’ve written about the importance of breath before. It’s the fastest way to reconnect with your body – how often are we told to, ‘just breathe’? Use your breath to avoid crumbling in the face of a challenge, acting on negative impulses or giving into cravings. By learning to control your breath and pay attention to it, you can break the cycle of bad habits.
Accept and Move On
Practice acceptance – the art of surrendering to your need to obsessively think about a problem. Be grateful for what you have, and accept the things you cannot change. Not everything is within your control.
Acceptance is not the same as avoiding the problem. It’s the ability to be perfectly present without attachment to the outcome.
See Opportunities in Obstacles
Like most things, stress is not a bad thing in moderation. Small amounts of stress actually keep your body ready for situations that require extra alertness, such as driving. But if you only ever see obstacles as negatives, you’ll set off a chain reaction. Stress turns into anger, resentment, frustration and depression.
Life is a series of lessons worth learning, but it’s important to learn how to manage your emotions to remain present.
Pilates is the ultimate exercise in mindfulness. While meditation alone can help with calming your mind, there’s nothing like a full-body workout to start or end your day.