Many of us live our lives on autopilot; we act without thinking about what we are doing, usually because we have done it many times. From the moment we wake up, we live life the way we have trained our mind over the years. Off the bed, scroll down social media feeds, go to work, have our meals, then as the day ends, we hit the bed. Whilst doing all this, we are not living in the present. We live reminiscing past or planning for the future, disconnected from our current lives, even within our minds and bodies. Every emotion that we feel seem to happen to us. We are not able to acknowledge, understand and control them.
In some cases, we might even ignore them. Either way, we are just building up emotions that eventually turn into something that can be very overwhelming. The truth is, avoiding or not understanding our feelings is not the highway to resolving our problem. In order to deal with this, we need to make a choice. Get off the autopilot mode and take control of our lives by staying mindful. Mindfulness is not difficult as it seems; it is a skill; hence everyone can learn it. Like every other skill, practice will only make it perfect. In this blog, I will be sharing four ways to practice living in the present.
Commitment To Stay In Present.
The first step to achieving anything is to adopt commitment as the first and foremost essential principle. Changing anything in your life requires constant action, something you will do every week, month or year, without going off the path. If you are not ready for the commitment, then change will never occur. It might sound nasty, but this is the fact of the matter.
Make a plan that you know will work for you. I have touched on this in my previous blog posts; always create a practical plan. You can create a vision board of what you want, and it can be as extravagant, over the top as you prefer, because that is the vision you have in the future, and you will work gradually towards it. That is acceptable but when it comes to the action itself, start small. One of the first things I did when I started my mindful journey is creating a 21- Days challenge. Why 21-Days? It is based on the age-old belief that it takes 21 days to form a new habit fully. According to research, it takes 21 days to fully develop a new habit, as 21 days is the time required for new neuropathways to form entirely in your brain.
There are a lot of 21 days of challenges for almost anything. From exercise to studying, there are plans on the website that is accessible, only one click away. There is no one rule fit all when it comes to mindfulness. You choose what works best for you, typed it on Google, find the one you prefer, print out (or save it), and then follow. After you have completed the first stage, repeat the process for stage two. Repeat it until it becomes a habit. As someone who is super laid back, the 21-Days challenges I enforce on myself – worked like magic!
Develop A System That Works A Prompted Awareness
Once you have decided on the challenge, you can move to the next part – developing a system that works for you. There is an idea but how to execute the ideas are part of the system. Hence, the system will allow you to stay in the present moment every time you access it. From my experience, not everything that you see will work for you. It is not impossible that what works for others might now work for you. Remember, you know your flow, you know what you like and dislike, so make adjustments accordingly.
One of them is to set the alarm on my phone to remind me that its time to connect with my present. Take a moment, and think about all the things we do daily basis? Everything requires us to focus on something, and usually, its never the present moment. I can vouch for this – I worked in an e-commerce company, which required me to immerse myself in the issues that I have to fix every minute. And now, as a freelance writer, I immerse myself in my writing. I need a constant reminder to keep on the path, so every time my phone alarm goes off, I take 10 minutes to reflect on my present moment.
Another suggestion that works is breathing exercise, first thing in the morning, once you have woken up. While sitting or lying down on your bed – take a few deep, mindful breaths. Notice the way your breath enters and exits your lungs. Pay attention to every part of your body, how your toes feel, how your stomach feels, literally every aspect of your body. If you are someone who often forgets things, you can change your wallpaper as a reminder. You can also place a poster in your room, and even a sticky note should help.
Remain Conscious Of Your Thoughts.
Research shows that the way our brains are conditioned based on the mental habits we cultivate. Neuroplasticity allows our thought processes to create new patterns and changes in the brain. This process is not exclusive to childhood and adolescence years but also during our adulthood. In short, our brain is malleable throughout our whole life. How can you do that?
Mindfulness meditation is the answer.
I won’t be exaggerating if I say meditation can resolve most of the problems that involve our mind and emotions. Meditation can change the structure and function of the brain through relaxation. We are used to multitasking; hence our brain always remains in haywire mode. Meditation helps to “quiet” the mind as it triggers the amygdala, the are of the brain that responds to stress. Ten minutes of meditation each day will allow you to stay more focused on complete silence as it will help you detach from your mind and all the thoughts connected to the past and future.
Take a nature trip. You can plan a vacation, weekend gateway or visit the nearest site that allows you to connect with nature. Two years ago, I took weekend trips alternatively to Port Dickson, a 45 minutes drive from the city I was living in at that time. Living in a busy city isn’t helpful when working a very stressful job, so a trip to the beach is all I need to reconnect with myself. It was a peaceful two days, and I was all ready to face the busy week ahead. Science also confirms that spending time in nature boosts our mental functioning, improves memory, and helps us stay focused. Apart from that, a trip to nature also provides a mental break from the cognitive processing demands of urban environments and connect with yourself.
Be Aware Of Your Surrounding.
Being present also includes staying aware of your surrounding. As technology slowly advancing, we can access almost anything through the mobile phone. It is indeed a blessing because everything we want to do is available at our fingertips. However, it has also made us a generation that mostly disconnects from the real world. Hence, start paying attention to your surrounding. Most importantly, those who are important to you.
When you are in the company of others, pay attention to the person in front of you. Do not concentrate on another stuff. Do not fiddle with your phone. Keep your phone away because nothing terrible will happen if you did not check your notification for an hour. Instead, look at the person in front of you and listen to what they are saying. Try your best to get to know them, communicate by asking questions, opinions and anything that interests you. Honestly, you will find yourself having the best time yourself better than the time spent with your phone.
The other thing that requires your constant attention is your surrounding. Start with your home. Go into your room and look around. Pay attention to every detail here. What do you like about it? What do you dislike about it? What would you like to change about it? List down all of these. This is one of the ways that you can reconnect with your home. Often, we assume that our house is just a place we need at the end of the day. A place to sleep or rest. A place to hangout off work. The reality is, your home is beyond that. It is your gateway from all the hustle and bustle of your working life. Transform it into a space that you love spending quiet times in; repair what is broken and replace your furniture or home décor to make it your haven.
If you are not taking a chance to change your life now, chances are you will live with the same routine for the rest of your life. Of course, there is no time limit to finally decide you want to change, but you are just wasting more of your precious time thinking about it. Instead, start when you started thinking about it. Thinking is not the reality, it is solely your thought, but the action is the real thing. You don’t have to start drastically but start from where you are comfortable. One step a day will eventually take you to your destination.
Sometimes, all you have to do is slow down when everything around you is going fast. You cannot control what happens around you, but you can always control how you react to it. Slow down and live in the present moment. No matter how small it is, every moment matters. Laugh, have fun because one day, when you look back, you will realize it was a big moment.
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