- The Importance of Being Present
- What Does It Mean to Be Present?
- 4 Ways to Become Present and Mindful
- 1. Bring Awareness to Your Breathing
- 2. Choose an Object to Focus On
- 3. Give Attention to Your Physical Form
- 4. Give Your Full Attention to a Task
- How to Meditate in Public
- 1. Focus on Breathing to Reduce Stress
- 2. Go to Your Happy Place
- 3. Use Muscle Relaxation to Stay Calm
- 4. Focus on an Object
You may have heard of the importance of being in the present moment. And it may seem like a strange or complicated thing to master. It isn’t, and you’ll see how simple the process can be by using the 4 techniques outlined below.
Plus we’ll explain how to be mindful in public, so you can reap the benefits no matter what circumstances you find yourself in.
The Importance of Being Present
According to Psychology Today, people who live in the moment tend to be happier, calmer, more relaxed, and more grateful. And gratitude creates even more benefits, both psychological and physical, so it’s an added bonus that being more present increases thankfulness.
Learning to be present isn’t complicated or difficult. The challenge that many people run into is being consistent with the practice so that it becomes a way of living. But with so many positive benefits, It is definitely worth making the effort to raise your consciousness about it.
The simple exercises outlined below will get you started. Before we get into the techniques, you might still be wondering what it means to be present. We’ll discuss that next.
What Does It Mean to Be Present?
One of the dictionary definitions of being present is “existing or occurring now.”
For a person to be present in this moment, it means to bring their attention to what is occurring right now. This means that they aren’t caught up in the past or looking ahead to the future.
“We suffer more often in imagination that in reality.” — Seneca
They have their full focus on what is happening at this very moment. And because many people tend to be driven by the thoughts going on in their minds, it can be challenging to keep their attention from wandering. Being present is such a powerful way to relax and become calm because most of the problems we think we have and the suffering we endure takes place in the mind when we fret about the past or worry about the future.
4 simple techniques can help you to stay in the present. By practicing them often, you’ll find it easier to do it as time goes on.
4 Ways to Become Present and Mindful
Use these methods to become better at staying present and focused:
1. Bring Awareness to Your Breathing
The beauty of bringing awareness to your breathing is that it’s convenient. You can practice it anywhere, at any time, and it won’t draw attention. It’s a good habit to practice this as often as you can during your daily activities, and usually you won’t need to stop what you’re doing.
The basis of this technique is to become aware of the rhythm of your breath as it moves in and out in a natural way. At the start, you might notice a shallowness or tightness in your chest. If you do, just take a few deeper breaths to get the oxygen flowing. Then let your breathing return to its natural rhythm, keeping your attention on the breaths as they move in and out. Don’t look for something special to happen. Just keep paying attention.
By keeping your focus on your breathing, you’ll stay centered in the present moment, away from the thoughts going on in your mind.
After a while, you should notice a feeling of peace or lightness. But when it starts to become forced or uncomfortable, let it go, and return to the practice later.
The sessions will get longer as you consistently do this several times each day.
2. Choose an Object to Focus On
For this method, you’ll choose an object nearby. It doesn’t matter what it is or if it’s living or inanimate. Just look at it without thinking about the name or any labels. As you gaze at it, bring your attention to details like color, shape, or texture, but without seeking to analyze it.
After a few moments, you may feel the energy or aliveness of the object, especially if it’s a living thing like a plant or pet.
It’s possible you’ll feel like you’re seeing the object for the first time. It means you’ll have moved out of your thoughts and placed your awareness in the present moment.
Again don’t force it or look for special feelings. Do the exercise as long as you can keep your focus, then let it go, and try again later.
3. Give Attention to Your Physical Form
The physical form is a portal that allows you to enter and rest in the present moment. If you place your attention on your body and notice it’s aliveness, you’ll shift into deeper consciousness.
This method works well if your eyes are closed, but it’s also fine to leave them open. In the beginning, it will probably be easier if you close your eyes. Bring your focus to various parts of your body, noticing how each part feels at that precise time. Does it ache? Is it relaxed? Is it tense?
A shift will happen that you are aware of, and you’ll start to notice your “being-ness.” This awareness can occur during physical activities such as yoga or walking mindfully.
This practice is also a great way to become friends with your physical form, especially if there are things about it that you don’t like or appreciate.
Like the other two practices above, this method is fairly easy to do in a variety of situations.
4. Give Your Full Attention to a Task
Any tasks that you carry out during your daily life have the potential to move you into the present. Gardening, cleaning the toilet, ironing clothes, drinking tea, or feeding the cat can all be forms of meditation.
Take any activity that you don’t particularly enjoy doing and turn it into a way to enter the present moment and become more conscious. You’ll stop thinking about random thoughts when you give daily chores your full attention. That’s the reason time seems to fly when you do something you like. You’re giving it your complete attention and time seems to stop.
But it’s possible to become present with chores you don’t like too. It’s often the resistance that causes feelings of suffering.
If you just start and give each action your full attention, it becomes much easier to complete the whole job, taking it one step at a time.
Use these 4 practical and straightforward methods for becoming present throughout your day. There’s no need to set aside a special time or place.
Just pick the method that works best for you and practice it as often as possible.
As said earlier, the real challenge is being consistent in your practice. After you are comfortable with one technique, add others to mix it up, and increase your mastery.
It’s important to give it time. Let it become something that you do without expectations and you’ll find that it soon becomes natural to be present.
When you start out with the practice of being present, it’s often easier to do when you’re alone and more difficult to achieve when in public places. We’ll address that next, so you can become more conscious and raise your energy level in a variety of situations.
How to Meditate in Public
You’re at the office in a meeting, or around family or other people, and the stress is on. Your heart is racing, your stomach is churning, and it’s getting difficult to breathe.
You don’t want to give in to the anger. If you say something you’ll regret, you could hurt someone’s feelings, or lose your job, or start a fight with your good friend.
It’s time for a quick meditation. Because, in reality, what you’re hoping to achieve is to become present. If you can bring awareness to the situation, you’re much less likely to lose your cool.
Here are 4 steps you can take to calm down even when you don’t have privacy:
1. Focus on Breathing to Reduce Stress
Breathing is one of the vital elements of meditation and exercise. There are many different forms of breathwork, but for now, be inconspicuous and do this gentle process.
Take a deep breath in through your nose, and let the belly expand for five seconds, hold for three seconds, exhale out the mouth for four seconds.
Don’t count out loud, and don’t do this routine with the gusto you normally use when at home or doing your yoga. The keyword here is “unobtrusive.”
Definitely, don’t chant the “om” sound as you do this.
2. Go to Your Happy Place
Tune out for a few moments and let your mind go to your mental happy place. That place could be a recent vacation, a time you’ve spent in nature, a past fun time with your family, or a loving moment with your partner.
Try to invoke all of the feelings and sensations from that place, including touch, taste, and smell. The tricky part here will be keeping a neutral expression on your face.
Hint: actually go to beautiful places that make you happy, and when you do, imprint the memory. You can use these memories later when you need the inspiration to draw from.
It’s the same as when you enjoy moments with others. Make a conscious effort to take a mental picture and file it away to pull out later. You’ll never have a shortage of happy places and events to make you smile.
3. Use Muscle Relaxation to Stay Calm
Chances are, if you’re feeling stressed, you’re tensing up your body. Do what’s sometimes called progressive muscle relaxation.
Inhale and tighten a muscle group like your foot or leg for five to ten seconds, then exhale and relax it. Pause for ten to twenty seconds, then move on to the next area of your body.
This is typically started with the lower limbs and continued upward. Don’t forget your abdomen, and for the facial muscles, you might want to make sure no one is looking directly at you. Or you can turn away from the screen for a moment if you’re doing a video call.
Many people use this method to fall asleep, so if you’re one of those folks, save it for when you’re at home.
4. Focus on an Object
One final suggestion for getting yourself into the present moment and out of your angry thoughts is to focus on an object in the room or near you. It can be anything. But try to refrain from naming it or putting judgments on it. Instead, see how many things you can notice about it.
For example, you might look at a plant on a table. You might notice how many shades of green are in the leaves, or how it tilts slightly toward the light of the window. Or the color of the flowers might remind you of a favorite shirt.
What the object is doesn’t matter. Just focus all your attention on it long enough to clear away any unsettling thoughts and bring yourself back to feeling relaxed.
Keeping calm when stressed in public isn’t always easy, but with a little effort, it can be done. Utilizing a fun, discreet form of meditation that works for you will help.
And the more you practice these 4 quick methods in public, the easier it will become to slip into a calmer state when you start to feel your hackles rise.
Use this information and learn to how to live in the present moment in all areas of your daily living to increase your focus and peaceful feelings. Bring more positivity to your daily routines.