Living in the moment all the time is hard. It takes practice. It takes work.
But even if you are not living in the moment every moment, it becomes highly important to not miss out on some of the most important moments in life.
Why living in the moment is important?
I am not sure how long you have followed my blogging life, online life but I am a mom of two boys who need constant attention and help. They are 5 and 7 but still they are at a tender age where they need direction, they need help with processing their thoughts, they need love and care. And they are growing up fast. There are so many moments, I do not want to miss.
Like the time when they were playing superheroes with each other and not fighting. The time when my younger one learned to read his first word or the time when older kids swam without the help of his instructor or hit the ball with his bat for the first time after several trials and ran to the first base.
The precious moments when they are waking up from sleep, coming back from school learning new lessons, going to school saying our goodbyes, all these and more are precious moments. And sometimes we can miss them.
There are other moments where I love to be in the moment. I work with clients to help them break through their emotional barriers that keep them stuck in a rut.
When I am with my clients. I need to give 100% attention to what they are saying so I can ask the right questions and help them process whatever they need to process in order to have a breakthrough. In those moments, if I am not paying attention to what my client is saying, then I have missed the mark on how I work big time.
There are times when my husband is home from work and at that moment, I want to be there to greet him after his long day and just be there for him to help him process his day or just give him love after a tiring day.
There are other times that make it 100% necessary to have your mindful attention. When you are driving, using machinery, calculating, etc. If you are not present in these moments, you can cause losses to yourself or others.
As you can see, living in the moment is an important way of living life to make sure you have not missed out on crucial moments in life.
What Does It Really Mean To Live In The Moment?
Living in the moment means being present where you are, without dwelling in the past or thinking about the future. Being completely present at your current task at hand with all your senses. Mindfulness essentially teaches us how to be present and how to savor this moment to moment experience.
What Makes You Not Live In The Moment?
Two Things. Dwelling In The Past and Planning For The Future.
Dwelling In The Past
A lot of times, you are dwelling in the past. Your mind has a tendency to ruminate on past actions, emotions and thoughts. This is because your mind is always trying to come up with solutions to what is stressing you out. A lot of times though, these things that you ruminate on really have no solutions. It could be a past moment that you cannot change, a mistake you made that you have no way of fixing.
Dwelling on these thoughts gives you anxiety, a feeling of sadness, guilt, sometimes anger and in worst cases depression.
Have you sometimes said something out of line and then regretted it? Have you done something embarrassing that you would never ever do but ended up doing anyway and there is nothing you could do about it?
Small things like this and sometimes big mistakes make your living in the moment very difficult. It steals your joy that you naturally feel otherwise when you are living in the moment.
The main problem that lies behind this is Acceptance. Not being able to accept the reality of your situation. When you are unable to accept situations, you are in a mode of fixing them.
Some people believe that acceptance means giving up or accepting failure and not taking action. Some people believe acceptance means letting things be as they are and not changing them.
The truth is that acceptance helps you accept the past so that you can change things in the future. What your mind does when it is ruminating is it tries to change the past. Now there is no time machine built yet where you can physically go and change the past. So in order for your mind to think about solutions in the present moment, it is important for it to accept the past situation.
Worrying About The Future
A lot of times you plan for things in the future and that is great but as you start to plan for your future, your mind tends to start thinking of possible ways where things can go wrong and starts worrying. You start thinking of unwanted thoughts and experiences that are hypothetical and may never happen but your mind puts you in an exhaustive state of worry and stress. Naturally living in the moment is not possible when you create so much in your mind to worry about.
How Do You Live In The Moment And Not Dwell In The Past And Worry About The Future?
My one answer to this question is Practice Mindfulness. Now if you think about mindfulness, you might start thinking about meditation and then go down on the path of worrying that you might never be able to do this. So I want to tell you to stop thinking about it right there.
I have created a list of 5 simple mindful practices that will take very little time and help you start building your mindful muscles and help you stay more and more in the present moment.
5 Mindful Practices That Will Help You Live In The Moment
- Here and Now Pleasantness : Look around the space you are in. With the sense of childlike curiosity, look around and find one item that is pleasant or pleasing to you. Look at the object and ask yourself: What is exactly that you like about it? Is it the shape, the size, the color? Does it remind you of a happy or pleasant memory? Whatever memory may be, allow yourself to savor it for as long as you want. Do not dwell on it if it is an unpleasant memory. Shift to another object and repeat the here and now pleasantness. Does it help you move away from your unwanted thoughts into reality?
- Sharing Gratitude : Gratitude is the tow truck that pulls you out of life’s deep ruts. Gratitude means giving thanks and to find what is pleasing. It is very easy to do. You can focus on lack or you can focus on what is present in your life. While a lack mentality can put you dwelling in the past or worrying about your future, gratitude puts your focus on the present and helps you live in the moment. You can journal 3 things you feel gratitude towards daily. You are welcome to call or write to someone and give thanks as well. Keeping a gratitude jar or gratitude journal can be a practice which will help you keep a count of innumerable blessings present in your life that make it easy to live in the present moment.
- G.L.A.D Technique : An acronym that helps you find joy and balance. Share one G(ratitude) that you are thankful for today. Think about one new thing, concept or idea you L(earned) today. One small A(ccomplishment) you did today. One thing of D(elight) that touched you today. Anything that made you laugh, smile or brought joy. You can journal this. Just notice these things to yourself. Whichever way seems the best for you.
- Add Curiosity : A lot of times we judge our actions when we are dwelling in the past or considering plans for our future. A way to get back in the present moment is to add curiosity to these judgements. For example you have a thought “ I do not know enough yet”, add curious thoughts “ how much do I need to know to make it enough?” or “when do I feel most confident about what I know?” or “ Where does this feeling come from?”. Spend a few minutes just being curious and notice what you feel after this experiment.
- Take a Stress Pause : Use the acronym S.T.O.P to take a stress pause anytime to help you get back into living in the moment. S(low) the pace by standing in where you are and then taking three deep belly breaths. T(une) in this moment, with your body with full presence. Scan your body from tow to head and become aware of any tension that you maybe holding inside the body. O(bserve) your external environment, focus on the surroundings and notice three things that you like. P(ossibility), reflect on the possibility and openness and spaciousness that lie before you.
Did you try any of these practices? Let me know in the comments below.