Our stress buckets are full.

This Pandemic, our current political climate, and all of the negativity and change that has been the theme of the past year have completely filled our stress bucket. This means that any stressor, no matter how small, tends to send us over the edge. Between friends, coaching clients, and patients I am witnessing the day to day toll this level of stress has had on people.

So what’s the solution?

I’ve asked quite a few people who aren’t particularly stressed right now and their answers have been similar. They say:

  • I don’t read the news
  • I go to work, I have a purpose, and something to focus on
  • I stay in the moment

The only solution that is 100% available to anyone and everyone is the ability or decision to stay in the present moment.

“As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love, even the most simple action.”– Eckhart Tolle

We live in an age of constant worry, anxiety, and fear. There’s always something that needs to be done, we need to prepare for or anticipate. It’s easy to get lost in the past or worrying about the future. But, as Spiritual teacher and author Eckhart Tolle, wrote in his inspiring book, The Power of Now, learning to live in the present moment allows us to experience “a way out of suffering and into peace.”

Are there things you can do every day to help you stay in the present moment? After all, living mindfully is key to less stress (and I’m 100% certain it’s the key to achieving health and weight loss goals). You’ve probably heard it said many times that it’s important to live and stay in the present moment. Or maybe you’ve heard similar pieces of advice like:

  • “Be present in your own life.”
  • “Don’t get caught thinking about the past or the future -live in the now!”
  • “All you have is this moment. Don’t let it slip away.” 

But given the fast pace and hectic schedules most people have, anxiety, stress and unhappiness are our new normal. It’s possible you don’t even realize it’s leaving you worn out and out of touch with yourself.

How often have you eaten a meal, and not even tasted it? You gulped it down and then went back to work. Or you completed a project without paying attention to it. Maybe you drove to work, arrived at your destination, and don’t remember the drive getting there. 

Many people experience this multiple times every day, life passing us by while our minds are focused on something else. The solution is conscious awareness by living in the moment. This is also known as mindfulness, the foundation of Zen Buddhism. It’s not necessarily about meditating all day long. It’s more about being aware and in tune with your thoughts and actions, being aware of what your senses notice in your daily routine.

Living in the present moment sounds great but how do you actually put it into practice every day so that it becomes your new reality

Examples of Living in The Moment

Before we get to the habits you want to develop for living in the moment daily, let’s delve into some examples of what living in the moment looks like. Living in the moment takes practice. You have to develop daily habits to help you stay in the present moment When you do that you have less stress and anxiety.

First let’s experience what it’s like to be in the moment. Close your eyes. Now concentrate on your breathing. Feel the sensation of the air as it enters through your nose and fills your lungs. Now notice how it feels as it flows back out again through your mouth. Be aware of any thoughts that come up, acknowledge them then let them float away. Then return your focus to your breathing.This will be challenging, especially the first few times you do it. Yet, it’s the basic foundation for enjoying and being in the moment. 

Here are 4 examples of living in the moment.

  1. Watch children as they play. They are masters at being in the present. For example, watch your preschooler play. He’s not thinking about yesterday or what he wants to do after he’s done playing. He’s simply Superman, rescuing those in need. Nothing else exists at the moment. 
  2. Someone savoring dessert. Have you ever watched someone really enjoy a decadent slice of tiramisu? Instead of gobbling it down, they enjoy it completely. They close their eyes. Slowly they put a spoonful in their mouth. They savor the flavor, the sweet chocolatey cheesiness, the sponginess texture of the cake, the coffee, and the smoothness of the brandy. The next time you take a bite of your food, try to clear your mind of everything, no reading, texting or talking to anyone else. Instead just experience your food.
  3. Watch your cat. Cats have big attitudes. They think they are bigger than they are, great hunters like a lion. Watch as they stealthily stalk a bug or mouse. They think they are hidden in the tall grasses of the Savanna. They sneak up on it then pounce and attack. That cat isn’t thinking about what he had for his last meal or what they can claw to shreds later. They are just in the now being a cat. 
  4. When you are absorbed in something. Think about it. There have been times when you’ve been so focused on what you were doing that you were lost to everything going on around you. Not so much as lost in thought but lost in doing the task. Maybe it’s’ when you were creating something or when you were playing sports or fixing something or when you were in the flow at work. Remember those times and try to replicate it.

There are examples of being in the moment all around you. Begin studying others who have achieved this state and start implementing it into your daily life. Next time we’ll talk about 6 Steps for Experiencing and Practicing Flow State

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