How To Be in the Present Moment
By: Brittany Berlin
As 21st century humans, it’s become pretty normal to operate from some level of stress daily, if not by the hour. Unfortunately, just because it’s normal does not mean that it’s healthy. In fact, living with stress can really negatively impact your health and overall well-being. Now, some stress is good, but in the past few decades, we’ve trained our minds and bodies to not be able to decipher the difference between getting angry or upset over something at work, school, or in a relationship versus running from a lion.
There is a solution for this. Practicing mindfulness has been shown to not only reduce stress, but also improve other areas of our health.
And the best way to start practicing mindfulness is to become ever so aware of the present moment. The present moment is the moment you’re in right now, as you read this article. It is the only moment that there ever is. We never get to the future- we only stay in the present, and the present moves us to whatever idea we have of the future. We can’t go back to the past- although arguably, by recalling past events and reliving those emotions, one could say you can actually go to the past.
But the present moment is the only one we can definitively live in. And it’s the key to mindfulness.
So how do you get to the present moment? We’ll start by walking you through these 5 steps to get your mind and body out of the past or future and into the here and now.
- Come back to your breath.
When we’re in a moment of anxiety or heated argument with a loved one, the easiest thing to do in that instant is to come back to your breath. As soon as you place your focus on your breath, your mind shuts down its chatter and the breath becomes the entire world. This will help to bring you back into your body when you feel like you’re anywhere but. Take 5 deep and mindful breaths, focusing on where the breath is traveling throughout your body, making sure to hold your exhale for longer than your inhale. Your focus on counting the inhales and exhales will also help to calm your racing mind.
2. Bring your attention to different parts of your body.
Next, bring your awareness to other parts of your body. Are your hands clenched? Is your neck stiff? Are you slouching or sitting up straight? Don’t place any judgment over any parts of your body. Simply place awareness. Acknowledge that it’s there and take note of what it’s doing. If you can, allow more ease into the areas of your body that are feeling tight or clenched.
3. Say one thing you’re grateful for in the present moment that you’re in.
Gratitude goes a long way, but it’s easy to skirt around saying something that you’re grateful for in a moment you really wish you weren’t in. Practice saying one thing that you’re grateful for in the current moment. It could even be that you were able to focus on your breath in Step 1. Just the action of being thankful brings you fully into the present moment and allows you to step into that moment more positively and mindfully, which will aid in resolving any issue at hand or making any experience better.
4. Say out loud or in your head, “I am safe.”
When we’re not in the present moment and our minds are racing off in all sorts of directions, it’s easy for the body to not feel safe. You’re operating by emotions that are not dictated by your present reality, so your body doesn’t know what it’s up against- it’s only operating by the emotions you feed it. Whether you’re recalling a past event or worrying about the future, these emotions dictate a real reality for your body. It doesn’t see what your eyes see. Reassuring your mind and your body that in this very instant you are safe can help ease you back into the present moment.
5. Proceed mindfully.
Now that you’ve fully entered the present moment, your emotions are more in check and you’re fully aware of your surroundings and how your body is feeling, it will be a lot easier to proceed forward in the best possible manner. Maybe it’s taking a break from the conversation you’re in, changing activities to something that’s less provoking, or even perhaps accepting and embracing that there’s an alternative and better way you can feel about whatever situation that you’re in. Whatever the case may be, being fully present, and mindfully at that, in whichever moment you’re in will improve the reality you experience and can ultimately lead to less stress.