You spend your entire life looking for the silver lining of happiness, but you never quite seem to find it. I can almost guarantee that part of the reason is your inability to stay focused on the present moment, as without the now we’re lost in a train of endless thought: past, present, and the future.
I used to be one of those people, unable to focus on a single thing at once for longer than a few seconds, and while I can’t say that I am a fully developed being, I know for certain that my effort to practice living in the moment has paid good dividends in terms of happiness levels, attention span, and the general experience of life.
In my post about the signs of spiritual awakening, I explained how Echkart Tolle’s book The Power of Now had helped me to realize what it is like to stay present for longer periods at a time. You should try and find a copy of this book if you haven’t read it already, definitely in my list of top five books of all time!
1. The Lying Down Method
You will find this method to be extremely helpful – especially if you haven’t tried it before – for learning more about (feeling) the present moment. The lying down method consists of soft surface to lie on, and a couple of minutes of your full attention. You can even begin right now, just follow these steps:
- Find comfortable space where you can lie down for a few minutes, and do it.
- Relax your body completely, close your eyes and just lie there for a few moments.
- At this point, you should begin a full-body inspection. Feel every part of your body, like you’ve never felt it before. Analyze how your hands feel, how your legs feel against the ground they’re at. Feel your shoulders, the weight that your head is putting on them. Do this for as long as you can, do this for every part of your body!
- Ignore thoughts, emotions, and just let it be. You’ll instantly recognize what’s happening, and there is a nice feeling of bliss that the present moments brings with it.
- You can stand up now, perhaps think about the experience you had, or perhaps you want to move on to the next technique.
Remember: It’s your experience, do with it whatever you like.
2. Mindful Breathing
By learning to concentrate on the flow of our breathing, we’re able to develop an ability that allows us to experience thoughts as they are, rather than getting attached to our thoughts as physical objects – we realize that we can change our direction of thoughts at any given moment, in the end – it’s only a moment that passed through a thought!
“If you want to conquer the anxiety of life, live in the moment, live in the breath.” ― Amit Ray
You won’t be able to argue against the benefits of mindful breathing, not only is it very easy to do, you can experience instant results! Try it right now, try to focus on your breath for just five minutes. Not only are you going to find it hard, you’ll notice how quickly there was an improvement in your mood, state of mind, and general levels of happiness.
Why? Because you didn’t spend those five minutes tackling a problem from either the past, or the future. You were trying to be present, wouldn’t you want to feel this way more often?
3. Mindful Walking
I don’t have a drivers license, I don’t use a bike to get to places, if anything – my main way of transportation are my own legs. I’ll use the bus, and the train occasionally, but I would never spend money on public transport to go up a steep hill in a few minutes. I can use that climbing time to be mindful, and aware of my surroundings. This is the beauty of mindfulness.
Yes, your age and fitness levels can have a say in this, but even a few minutes of mindful walking can bring about a much needed change. If you’re a busy person, even better – because by beginning to practice right now, you’ll see the results in much less time. Be aware of the steps you take, they’re taking you to places where you need to be.
4. Intense Observation
It doesn’t have to be intense, but it’s great to practice something with a little bit of extra energy! This technique is perfect for any situation in life, at any given moment we have the freedom to stop, to stop and observe what is happening around us, is the thing on our mind really helping us right now? You can make so much better decisions when making them in the now.
“Do not allow yourself to suppress your thoughts. Instead, let the thoughts come before you and become a sort of observer. Start observing your own mind. Do not try to escape; do not be afraid of your thinking.” – Swami Rama
Going to the store? Maybe you’re heading out to a concert? It’s very likely that once you get there, there are going to be queues and people waiting, why not use those few moments to become present, aware of your surroundings? As I am writing this, I’m getting heightened feelings of common understanding. Why waste your time thinking about non-important things, when you could be fully immersed in the present moment?
5. The Concept of a Round World
The Earth, is it really flat? Yes, the scientists argue that the Earth is not exactly round: “Our globe, however, is not even a perfect oblate spheroid, because mass is distributed unevenly within the planet. The greater a concentration of mass is, the stronger its gravitational pull, “creating bumps around the globe,” says geologist Joe Meert at the University of Florida in Gainesville” – lets not get into conspiracy theories!
So, what exactly did I mean by The Concept of a Round World? I actually kind of self-discovered this one, I was hanging outside in the park on a full moon, and it occurred to me that we can use the idea of a round World to be more present. Every time we get stuck in our heads, we can remind ourselves that we can only see as much as we have right in front of us. It’s difficult to see behind the buildings, but it’s impossible to see through them!
Try this, just go outside and acknowledge that above your head there is a Universe, a fully functional Universe that holds the key to our experiences. Look around, look past the horizon and realize that the present moment is all you have.
The Present Moment
I’m sure that we’re going to explore this topic a little bit more in-depth over the coming months, even years. You’ve to realize that getting stuck in the mind is not healthy, and the more you practice being mindful of the now – the easier it becomes to deal with life stress, challenges, and other difficult situations. You don’t owe anyone anything, you’re a free human being that has the potential for more than just being stuck in an endless loop of thoughts.
Thank you, for reading and tuning in: please, share your own experiences with others.