Being — and staying — in the present moment seems like the great goal of the moment, and we’re hearing it from everyone, from Eckhart Tolle to Oprah to the yoga teacher on the corner. It sounds like a good thing to strive for, sure, but really: what’s the point? And why bother when it’s so damn challenging?
When you’re not present, your mind darts all over the place: fretting about the past, worrying about the future, and distracting you from whatever is going on right now. After all, the past is done and dusted, and those worries of the future may never come to fruition, so in a purely practical sense, thinking about it is a waste of time.
On the other hand, when you’re firmly anchored to the present moment, you have a sense of equilibrium. You’re focussed, full of intention, and unflappable. In order to achieve anything meaningful, it’s essential to get present!
You don’t have to sit on a meditation pillow every morning to get present (unless you want to)! Here’s a cheat sheet for being in the here and now.
SAY NO TO MULTI-TASKING
One of the things that prevents us from fully engaging with the job at hand is a compulsion to multi-task. It’s never enough just to go for a walk: we have to be on our phone at the same time. We rarely stop to eat a meal without also gazing at the television or refreshing Instagram. Working lunches, TV dinners, constant conversations… None of this is good for productivity, and more importantly, it’s not good for our brains, either.
Do one thing at a time. When you’re walking your dog, just walk your dog — don’t listen to music or talk on the phone at the same time. Eat at a table, not on the run, and eat mindfully!
It’s okay not to be tethered to your inbox at all times. You don’t need to be “on” 24/7. When you take a break from work, or social media, or neverending discussions, you will quiet down, and tune into yourself. This is crucial stuff, and it’s also the basis of radical self love.
Practice gratitude relentlessly. If you feel mired in dark or depressing thoughts, one of the easiest ways to turn them around is to focus on what you’re thankful for. Any time you have a negative thought, or feel yourself spiralling, notice it, stop, and challenge yourself to come up with ten things you’re grateful for in this moment. Your list might as simple as breathing fresh air, that you’re wearing shoes, or that the sun is out today, and that’s great! There are no little or big blessings. They are all equally magnificent.
If you’ve got gratitude down pat, try this advanced move. Next time you’re thinking of things to be grateful for, name only what is real right now: no past triumphs or future excitement allowed. This is a little more challenging, but it helps to keep you anchored in the moment, and will really expand your capacity for joy.
FOCUS YOUR INTENTION
Get really focussed in the mornings. I love to wake up and light a candle, and as I light it, I think about what I want to create that day. I visualise myself doing that thing, and it creates a container for focus and accomplishment. It’s really the best way to start the day!
Give absolutely all of your attention to your project of the moment. Turn off your wifi, set your phone to do not disturb, and dig deep. You might find it useful to work somewhere else. (I am always more productive in a coffee shop than at home.)
Of course, when you’re working on a task or project, it’s not unusual to get sidetracked or distracted by idle thoughts. You might worry about what could go wrong, feel plagued with doubt, or be gripped with fear. That is normal, but it’s your choice as to how you handle it. You can choose to stay stuck in those fears, to focus and fixate on them, and procrastinate all day, or you can bust through them by simply continuing to take action.
It really is as easy as that.
Be here now, mama!
Photos via Wildfox Couture.
P.S. If you want to increase your confidence, get creatively unstuck, and practice being present in a fun, imaginative way, check out Radical Self Love Bible School!