Time passes quickly and we often hear others say or make comments like I wish I had more time in a day or I wish I could press pause for a moment. Life is a mix of beautiful, messy, and chaotic. Sometimes it’s a lot to handle. It’s easy to get lost in memories of the past or dreams and fears about the future.
There’s a lot to said be said about being in the present moment — a practice that is not as easy as it sounds. With time, intention, and patience, we can practise pulling ourselves into the moment that we find ourselves in.
Let’s get started.
Phones and social media are big culprits for pulling us out of the present moment. I can't count the amount of times I've reached for my phone to take a picture only to see a text and get completely distracted. If you want to be present, limit the amount of time you spend on phones or social media apps. They are great tools, but they are too ingrained in our daily lives. You don't need to be reachable all the time. You don't need to document everything. Give yourself permission to simply be in the moment you are in . . . without your phone.
Acknowledge that you're distracted.
If you find your mind drifting deep into thought, be aware of that and pull your attention back to the present moment. If you are with someone and you feel safe being vulnerable, tell them.
"My mind drifted. Can you repeat that?"
"I'm very distracted right now. I'm working on being more present."
We're more likely to be distracted than to be present. There's a lot going on all the time, and there are many things competing for our time and attention. Talking about the struggle of being present and being honest with the people in our lives can open up pathways for conversation. If you are easily distracted, hold yourself with gentleness. Being present takes practice.
Awaken your senses.
Look around you. What do you see? What can you smell? What do you hear? What do you feel (internally and externally)? Taking breaks throughout your day to tune into your senses helps keep you aware of yourself and your surroundings. When you make this a habit you'll start to notice sudden changes . . . You're hungrier now than before and that's why you have less patience. It got quieter and your focus is back now. It's a curious experiment that will help you become more self-aware as well.
Narrate what you're doing.
This might feel odd at first, but it's a great practice to pull your mind into what you're doing and awaken awareness. A lot of what we do in a day is so habitual that we go into autopilot. Narrating what you're doing pulls you into the present moment. Although, you may want to save narrating out loud for when you're alone ;) . . . But hey, you do you.
Do body scans.
Bring your awareness from the top of your head and scan down to your toes. Where are you holding tension? What do you need? Take a moment to correct your posture, relax your jaw, stretch a little, or get a snack or drink of water. Hold yourself with gentleness, allow yourself to release tension, and take the time to nourish yourself.
Remember that everything is temporary.
This can be both sobering and comforting. If you are in a space where your present moment is horrible, we send you peace. Life is hard and it sucks sometimes. May you find peace in knowing that this too shall pass. Hold yourself with kindness as you navigate your present pain and discomfort. May you find safety in yourself.
Being present is a practice that humans have been working on for generations. See it as an experiment. You will find what works for you — with time and a lot of practice. Be patient with yourself and be present with your progress.
Jade is a writer, potter, and gardener living in a sleepy town in Northern Ontario. They love growing food, creating functional stoneware, and hermiting with a book as much as possible.