“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That is why it is called the present.” — Alice Morse Earle
The Importance of Staying in the Present Moment
How present are you? Can you step into and embrace this moment fully without clinging to any past or future expectations? Are you able to let go of any mental chatter? Can you put down your phone and appreciate the sounds of the birds, the wind, even the city noise around you? Are you aware of your breath?
Focusing on the now allows us to notice feelings like worry, fear, anxiety, and uncertainty and transform them into seeing each moment as a fresh experience. The present is a continual arrival of new beginnings — here, we have the power to release what does not serve us and be “reborn” at any time. You can embody anything you wish in each new moment. The past and future are both concepts that we can think about but not actually experience. For we humans, all we have is the present — and it’s all we truly need.
We are happiest in the present moment.
The present is our natural state of being. Here, we’re not tied to the past, or things we wish had turned out differently. Nor are we entertaining unnecessary anxieties about the future. When we are truly present, we can welcome the unknown. We are happy to be alive, knowing each new moment is a gift. We flow with the current of life, whatever surprises come our way. The continuous arrival of the now lets us re-center ourselves, acting from a place of authenticity and compassion, rather than reactivity and resistance.
When we worry about the past and future, we wall ourselves off from the present.
“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time, but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time — past and future — the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.” — Eckhart Tolle
Our human minds love to create stories, and there’s nothing wrong with that — stories are beautiful, meaningful, and inspiring, creating connection and purpose. But many of the stories, assumptions, and concepts about who we are and how we should be living aren’t adding to our growth and expansion.
This part gets a little heavy, so bear with us... Over the last century, discoveries in physics have changed the way we understand time. We now know time isn’t just simply a linear flow. But, our human perception of time is still pretty predictable. As we experience the present and transition it into stored memories, we naturally make minor edits and re-categorizations to make sense of what has happened. Whenever we pull up an experience from our “memory bank,” we reconstruct things, maybe even shifting the experience based on what our brains “know” now. This means that it’s not always a good idea to rely on what we remember as pure fact.
In the same way, the assumptions we make about the future are just that —- assumptions. More feeling than knowing. They have value, but at the core, our future and past are subjective.
Everything we really know to be true is held in this present moment. When we’re living in the now, our hearts are open to the experience that is truly meant for us.
Techniques to help us stay in the present moment
It can be easy to get caught in a social media loop, scrolling mindlessly through our phone. Or eating but not tasting and savoring our food, as we replay an experience in our mind that we wish had gone differently. Our daily distractions from true presence are endless!
At first, it’s challenging to notice when we’re distracted. Becoming more mindful of how we utilize our time and taking cues from this article is already a great start! A few techniques to snap out of distraction:
- Set a window of around 20 minutes when using social media.
- Try to spend less time consuming and more time creating.
- Intentionally put effort into your daily meals and set aside time to truly enjoy the taste of delicious, healthy food in your mouth.
- Emotional Freedom Technique (EFT), also known as tapping, is an easy, effective form of therapy to explore if you tend to cycle through unwanted thoughts in your mind and would like to release them. Sometimes referred to as “psychological acupressure,” tapping is based on Chinese medicine and utilizes meridian pathways to help reduce stress. It’s believed to restore the body’s energy balance, and in turn, to relieve symptoms from negative experiences or emotions.
A few great practices that can help us cultivate more presence into daily life include meditation, breathing techniques, movement, journaling, and being with nature. Daily meditation allows us to check in with our emotions, and see if they are helping or hindering us in the present moment. The end goal of meditation is not to completely eliminate distraction from our daily lives, but rather to give us the tools to handle the flow of life more consciously, intentionally, and compassionately. Meditation is best done first thing in the morning and right before you go to sleep, clearing mind and energy for a new day. Connecting to your breath and practicing breathing techniques during meditation can be especially helpful in dropping into the present moment. When we focus on our breath, we’re spending time in our body rather than our mind. More often than not, most of our experience is lived through the mind, so practices that allow you to become more physically grounded can help us experience a deeper sense of presence. For a deeper understanding on meditation, take a peek at our blog post “Meditate Your Way to a Calm Mind & Bright Skin.”
Other paths into that physical connection to self include conscious movements like yoga and interpretative dance. Flowing with music is synonymous with flowing with the current of life, and can be very beneficial and healing.
Journaling is a beautiful technique if you are finding that you are overwhelmed by your mind. We recommend free-writing all of your thoughts — and whatever else comes out — on paper to get them out of your mind in a tangible way.
Finally, being with nature and without distractions like technology is the simplest way to be present. Go on a walk or lay in the grass, and listen to the sounds around you.
“Remember, Be Here Now.” — Ram Dass
Be gentle with yourself in this process and you’ll begin learning which areas of your life deserve more presence and attention. Ultimately, we want to be present as an act of thanks for our time here on earth. Life is short, and the present moment is worth it!