Being present can be hard. It’s a skill that takes time to learn and requires constant vigilance to maintain. However, it is one that is quite essential to extract the most out of life. Bringing yourself to the present is grounding. It sends you into the here and now, and allows you to stop thinking about the past and future. With it, you are able to focus on what is right in front of you, rather than what has been or could be.
Don’t be mistaken. There is nothing wrong with revisiting the past. In fact, it is often essential to look back to learn for the future. Sometimes though, you get stuck on particular moments and can’t seem to let go. Its the same with the future too. You ‘what if’, fantasize and worry about the unknowns ahead of you. These are often the moments that you stress about. Maybe that particular unknown seems too unpredictable. Or, that past moment still feels unresolved, no matter how hard you try to puzzle it out. The difficulty is, they may never be solved. You may never be able to revisit that moment and understand it or to predict that perfect future correctly.
So, why pour all that energy into it?
You run through multiple scenarios of how you could’ve acted differently and whether that would have changed things. But in the end? It wasn’t going to change anything. The past is still the same, and you’ve just spent the past few months wondering how something could have been. This is why learning how to be present is so crucial.
How do you stay present?
Its easy enough to want to be present. It sounds great, not focusing on the faux pas of the past or worrying about the uncertainty of the future. But, it is much harder in practice. Your mind wanders constantly. You have been taught by television, advertising and essentially everything around you to think at a pace of one hundred miles an hour. With this conditioning its hard to break out of the continuous thought cycle. Hard, but not impossible.
The first step is to learn to breath. Simple right? You let yourself get carried away with flying thoughts that twist and turn about. Take a break from these. Close down your eyes and have a little breather. Just focus on one thing, and that’s your breath. Make it a nice, deep breath through your nose and count to three. Exhale slowly through your mouth and relax your body with it. Next? Repeat. Repeat. Repeat.
As you repeat your breaths, take in and consider how you are feeling in this moment. Right here, right now. If you’re stressed, sad, happy, tired – it doesn’t matter, just observe and acknowledge it. Because that is how you are in this present time. And that’s okay. This is called bearing witness. The idea is to identify how you feel but not focus on it. Its not something you need to hang on to, but it is something to be aware of.
You’ve identified how you’re feeling in the moment. Seen and acknowledged it. The key part now is to let go of it. Whatever you’re feeling pass it by and take another breath.