“Forever is composed of nows.”
― Emily Dickinson
“Life is a preparation for the future; and the best preparation for the future is to live as if there were none.”
― Albert Einstein
In a world where we are encouraged to analyze our mistakes of the past and plan for a successful future, it can be challenging to live in the present and enjoy the moment.
All we really have is now. The past is over and can’t be changed; the future is to come and can’t be predicted. The only time we are experiencing in our bodies is the present moment. Have you ever spent a vacation taking pictures so you could remember it, only to lament later that you didn’t fully enjoy the moments you were so eager to capture? Have you ever looked at a photo of yourself from a time you were unhappy and with hindsight and wisdom realize you had much to be grateful for but didn’t recognize it? When we live in the past or the future, we don’t appreciate what we have, who we are, and that we are a part of the NOW.
If you would like to be more present in your life, here are some ideas:
Focusing on an object to connect with the present. Look closely at an object. It could be anything—a leaf, stone, book, chair, piece of fruit—but it is best to choose something that is easy to study intently without disturbing you or the object. Look at the object and note your initial impressions. If the object is small, hold it in your hand; if the object is large, get close enough to see details. Study it’s color, texture, weight, shape, if it has a smell, how it compares to others like it. Notice if your feelings or thoughts have changed from when you first looked at the object.
Ignite your senses. Choose a place that is rich in stimuli—different noises, movement, smells, etc.—where it is safe to sit and close your eyes, and use all your senses to tune in. Be curious with what you are taking in. What do you hear? Where is it coming from in relation to you? How would you classify the sound—melodious or harsh, soft or loud, smooth or staccato, continuous or intermittent? Experience all that is happening around you, allow all of your senses to focus on whatever attracts their attention. Recognize that as you are listening, watching smelling and feeling you are a part of the NOW.
Practice gratitude for what you have right now. This is a valuable daily exercise to ground you in the moment. Take a few minutes to mentally list all you are grateful for. Nothing is too small, too silly, or too common. Additional benefits you might notice from practicing gratitude are lifting your mood and putting things in perspective.