How much time do you really spend living in the moment?
For some people, that can seem like a strange question. After all – we’re alive right now. You’re reading this article right at this second – not reminiscing about the past – but are you really focused on the current experience you’re having?
Many of us spend so much time and energy thinking about the things that we did wrong in the past, or the things that might upset us in the future – that we forget to enjoy the moments that we experience in the present. By the present – I don’t mean today, or this hour – but the three-to-five seconds that make up any feeling or instant.
While living life second to second might seem like a lot of hard work – the truth is that it’s the most natural way to relax, de-stress, and experience the beauty of the world around you from an entirely new and fresh perspective. Living in the moment means practicing the art of mindfulness – the energy that helps us to recognise everything that makes us happy and sad in our lives. Most people find that if they can learn to experience mindfulness every day, then they can achieve a sense of peace and tranquillity in their lives that they simply can’t find anywhere else.
What Does Mindfulness Mean?
Most people live their day-to-day lives in a forgetful and somewhat “automatic” haze. Most of the time, they forget to focus on what matters around them, and instead get caught up in fears, worries, regrets, and angers. That state means that we never get a chance to actually enjoy what’s around us.
While stopping to smell the roses might seem a little cliché – there’s something to be said for enjoying the world that you’re in. After all – most people do believe that we only live once – so we might as well make the most out of the time we have!
Mindfulness is about taking each day second by second,focusing on the here and now, rather than what you’re going to be doing ten minutes, or ten days from this moment. It works by bringing your mind and body together – so that you enjoy the refreshing experience of each breath you take, taste every delicious flavour in your food, and enjoy the cool taste of water in your mouth.
When you’re mindfully working with your mind and body as one, then you establish yourself in the present moment, and this gives you the skill you need to recognise the conditions that contribute to your happiness. In other words – you feel naturally at peace – you stop worrying about the past and the future – and you simply live.
Being mindful means connecting with the senses and being more conscious in your life as it happens from one moment to the next. This can seem like a pretty strange way to live to most modern people who are used to sacrificing their life experiences in an attempt to pursue goals – but cultivating good mindfulness will help you to achieve more, and enjoy the experiences that you’re exposed to on a more full, and real level. In fact, some experts believe that we’re often more productive when we’re mindful.
Today, it seems that being present in the current moment using mindfulness techniques is probably the only way that we can really enjoy our lives to the fullest. When you’re mindful, you enjoy your food more, you connect with the people you love on a deeper level, and you even enjoy the little things more than ever before – even things that you’d usually find boring such as housework!
Of course, this elevated living is going to take some practice – so we’ve got some tips for staying present, connecting with the senses and experiencing more of life when you’re doing the most common things of your day:
Mindful eating is so effective at helping us to enjoy our food and feel more satisfied after a meal – that it’s often used as a solution for overeating problems. But how do we overcome the urge to simply cram food into our mouths, and enjoy the experience instead?
- Eat slowly: Eating slowly doesn’t mean that you have to chew each grain of rice for ten minutes at a time, but you can remind yourself that the process of eating shouldn’t be a race. Take the time to roll the food around your mouth and taste every part of it with your tongue. Doing this will not only help you to recognise when you’re full earlier, but it will also help you to digest your feed because you’ll chew it more. Focus on the temperature of the food, and how it feels in your mouth, and moving down your throat. Think about what kind of textures you’re experiencing – what the food smells like in relation to its taste. This mindful eating could help you discover food from an entirely new perspective.
- Savour the Silence as you Eat: When you’re eating mindfully, it might be worth turning the television off and allowing yourself to soak up the silence. Most of us don’t get a lot of time to simply sit and enjoy a lack of sound. Whether we’re driving to work through sounds of traffic, dealing with aggravated children, or working in a busy office – there’s noise everywhere you look. The only real time you get to enjoy any silence is when you’re sleeping. Sitting in silence and enjoying your food can allow you to block out the other distractions that would otherwise cause you to feel stress or discomfort as you eat – leading to poor digestion. It also gives you a perfect opportunity for complete relaxation.
- Make Flavour a multi-sensory experience: Does the tanginess of a lemon cause the hairs on your arms to stand up? Does the spiciness of a pepper make you sweat? What about the sounds that come with the crunch of a pizza crust, or the tap of your fork against your plate? Truly experiencing your food is about more than just taste – it’s recognising the way that all your senses come together to leave you feeling truly satisfied.
You don’t have to be drinking alcohol to enjoy yourself.
Just like eating food, drinking something is an experience that should be savoured and enjoyed. Just like you might enjoy the sensations that ripple up and down your spine during a massage, think about the refreshment you feel when a trickle of cool water goes down your throat and into your stomach on a hot day.
Mindfulness is about really creating a relationship with the way that we keep ourselves healthy and alive. Eating, drinking, and even breathing shouldn’t be a daily chore – but something incredible that reminds us of the beauty that comes with simply being alive. As you drink, think about the way that the water you have consumed will move throughout your body to become a part of what makes you tick.
Imagine the smooth torrent of fluids moving throughout your entire body and replenishing your tired muscles, your dried skin, and your aching eyes. Allow yourself to experience the way that water can truly bring us back to life. The more you take the time to enjoy what you’re eating or drinking, the more likely you are to turn the experience of eating a meal into something that’s truly revolutionary.
Since we eat and drink on a regular basis each day – it only makes sense that we would do our best to make that experience as pleasurable as possible.
Finally, when is the last time that you really focused on your breathing?
Most of us take our breaths for granted except for in those few beautiful moments when we’re mediating for relaxation, or enjoying the timeless pleasure of a massage session. However, if you take the time to actually notice your breathing patterns, then you might be able to reduce the pace of your breaths when you’re stressed, or reduce your discomfort during times of pain.
Sit silently and do nothing but focus on the experience of breathing. Think about the way that the air fills your lungs and leaves you brimming with energy – and the relaxation you feel for that second when you inhale, before refilling your lungs all over again. Some people who suffer from depression use mindful breathing as a form of therapy during difficult periods in their day. For instance, as you breathe in, you can imagine you’re drawing bright light into your body, while as you breath out, you’re breathing out additional stress.
What’s more, when you’re focusing on the pattern of your breathing, you don’t have the mental capacity to keep worrying about things from the past or feeling concerned about problems that might arise in the future. You’re forced to concentrate on the here and now. Remember as you’re breathing that you’re in a unique position to enjoy the world around you. You have the gift of life, and that means that you can explore all the pleasure and wonder that life has to offer.
For some people, simply taking the time to focus on a breath can be enough to remind them of the miracle that is life – and how lucky they are to be in the world.
Mindfulness Takes Time
The more time you devote to being mindful, the better you will become at living in the moment.
Just like anything else in life – living in the now takes some practice – and you’re going to need to be prepared to experience way more than you probably do now.
As we mentioned above, the average person simply drifts through life without experiencing much of anything, but a mindful person notices the world that they’re in. This could mean that you experience more happiness, sadness, and even pain than you did before – and these are all signs of progress!
If you find the process of being mindfulness difficult to come to by yourself, then one good way to boost your skills is to start with regular massage sessions. It sounds strange, but setting time aside for yourself to relax and recuperate can help you to take more notice of the little things. As the pains of your body are banished with better circulation and the careful application of pressure, you can allow yourself to focus on better sensations, and even remind yourself of the value of counting each breath, experiencing the way that oxygen fills your lungs.
One quick and important tip for when you’re making mindfulness a priority in your life – is that you should never force it. Trying too hard when it comes to mindfulness is just going to leave you feeling stressed and frustrated. Don’t try to force something to happen or achieve some special state of awareness. Just relax and pay attention to the moment that you’re living in. Whatever form that relaxation takes is up to you.
Allow yourself to experience the seconds, minutes, and hours of life as they unfold, paying careful attention to each beautiful detail that makes up the world around you, and the magic of being alive. Your mind is probably going to wander, and you might need to practice for quite a while before you get mindfulness down to a fine art – but you will get there. Just relax, and let yourself experience the world around you.