This is a guest post by Kevin Wood
You’ve felt it before, moments of immersion and complete presence. Time seems to slip through your fingertips in the best way. Maybe it’s been when you’re working, or just playing around. Whatever it is you want it back.
You’re tired of worrying how the future is going to unfold. Never quite sure if you’re doing the right thing. The constant questioning, the anxiety, the turning things over and over in your mind. It’s hard to make the right decision.
After all, your mind never seems to want to listen. You wish you had a way to control this, and dream of the time you can slip back into the bliss of the present.
If only life could be easier.
You Haven’t Spent Enough Time Immersing Yourself in Being Present
Setting aside time to simply be can be an incredibly foreign concept. The act of giving yourself space and not filling your life with activities, jobs, and events can sound boring. At times it might be. In simply creating this space for yourself you’ll inject new life into the rest of your actions.
Even though we know we need to set aside time, and step away from the constant stimulation of this age it can seem almost impossible to actually do so. After all we don’t have enough time as it is.
One day Gandhi and his advisors were going over everything he had to get done.
“Okay”, Gandhi said, “but, only if I can set aside an hour to meditate each day.”
“But Gandhi, you don’t have time for that, you’re too busy,” his advisor replied.
“Well…then I must set aside two hours to meditate each day.”
This story illustrates how he knew where his real power came from. In order to do the outer work at the level he needed to perform at, he knew he needed much more inner time. That’s where the real work is done.
We Live in a Culture of Planners
Our inability to do this isn’t entirely our fault, good news. We live in an age of constant distraction, if it isn’t the media or email, it’s a text from a friend or a reminder for an appointment. We’re pulled in so many directions we lose our center almost the moment we wake up.
Aside from that, we’re expected to know what we’re doing with our lives at every moments notice. If we’re not working three jobs, volunteering, spending time with our loved ones, eating healthy and running marathons then we’re falling behind.
This constant doing is symptomatic of the fear of simply being. We simply don’t know what to do with ourselves, even if we were to give ourselves this space. Because of this you feel uncomfortable giving yourself this time, as you feel pressure from society and your peers to keep on doing, to keep planning, and to keep moving.
You can break this cycle, however. All it takes is the conscious decision to create some space in your life and intentionally step into it. Don’t worry it won’t take two hours either.
Build Yourself a New Set of Tools
The goal here is to build yourself a set of practices that can supplement your life and bring more moments of presence into your daily experience. Even just five minutes here and there can add a tremendous amount of meaning to your life.
Moments of complete presence actually feel fuller and deeper than most of your planned experiences anyways. Think about it, I’m sure a lot of your most powerful moments that you come back to you again and again are due to their spontaneous nature. You simply can’t plan for some of life’s greatest adventures.
The adventure must unfold. You’re going to learn how to do this. Yes, it might seem foreign and uncomfortable, but in living from this space you open up your life to new potentials and avenues. After all, a cultivation of appreciation for your life can go a long way to solving all kinds of aliments, whether physical or mental.
The tools you’ll learn that will help you cultivate presence will trickle value in to all aspects of your life.
Learning to Let the Present Moment Unfold Through You
In learning to cultivate your ability to dip into the present moment you have to maintain a constant practice. It’s not hard to learn, however it takes dedication. It takes persistence when the resistance feels overwhelming. Cultivating a habit of engaging with the present moment can really help bring this to life.
The following exercise can be done at once, spread out throughout the day, or done as you please. Just remember, the power comes through repetition. Do what works best for you, once you start to feel the effects it’ll be hard to quit.
Once you start to feel the benefits of being present on a more regular basis you’ll be able to tap into it when you really need it, like before a big decision, or when trying to contemplate your next step in life.
1. Just take a breath
Taking a conscious breath is one of the greatest gifts you can bless yourself with. Not only will taking a deep inhale and exhale relax your body and mind, it will allow you to feel, if only for a moment, what’s it’s like to be present.
Bring your awareness into your body and feel the breath pass over you. Let it fill you up and as you exhale take away all your tension. You can continue this process for multiple breaths.
Let it flow through you and focus all of your attention on the breath. Go for as long, or short as you’d like.
2. Do something stupid
The quickest way to become fully immersed in the present moment is by making yourself uncomfortable. There can be several ways to do this. for some this involves simply playing without need for a reason, dancing uncontrollably, rollerblading for fun, introducing yourself to a new person, or trying to learn a new skill.
The act of newness will force you into the moment, once you get used to this feeling you’ll crave it more and more. It’s not about doing for doings sake, but it’s learning to inject spontaneity into your life.
3. Look around and find something to appreciate
This is a test of your ability to cultivate appreciation and gratitude. Being grateful is one of the quickest ways to bring love and joy into your life. When you’re grateful it’s almost impossible to be ruminating on the past, so it helps you to dip into the present.
Wherever you’re at right now, look away from this page and find an object or person, and think of one thing you’re truly grateful about. Really try and feel this appreciation in your body as much as possible.
The more you feel into it and the more frequently you engage with this the more happiness will start to stream into your life.
4. Do something you love deeply
Love is a very powerful emotion, when you couple that with something that really brings you to life, there’s a tremendous force that’s generated. When you do an activity you love, maybe it’s running, or writing, or painting it’s easier to transcend time.
You open up your heart to the moment and allow it to flow through you and into your activity. The more you play here the easier it will be to return again and again.
Play, laugh, love, create, engage, push, appreciate, and simply be; the present is always there waiting for you. It’s time to dive in.
What’s your biggest struggle in trying to live in the present moment? Share in the comments.