A road sign on a winding mountain highway warned, “Slow Down or Die.” Simple, succinct, and great life advice as well. If day after day of stressful racing around doesn’t manage to physically kill us before our time, it will surely kill our happiness and enjoyment in being here.
Think of times you’ve felt high energy and most alive. They’re typically when you’re so engaged in what you’re doing, the people you’re with, the conversation you’re having, the beauty you’re experiencing, that you forget yourself and become totally engaged in what’s happening right now. You lose track of time. At that point, you’re not thinking about the problems of the past or worrying about the future. You’re fully present in the Now.
We don’t need to be Buddhist monks dedicated to a life of mediation to get many benefits from mindfulness. Here are a few tips for living in the now:
- Pay attention to when time flies and you think, “When can I do this again?” and to when time drags and you think, “When will this ever be over?” What are you doing during those times? What does this tell you about ways to make your life more enjoyable?
- Practice regular meditation to keep yourself centered and relaxed. Take meditation training or experiment with this powerful force on your own. Many meditation apps are available. Our family’s favorite is Insight Timer.
- Study books that deal with deeper issues like the soul, mysticism, spirituality, prayer, purpose, and meaning. Combine this with meditation and reflection.
- Watch your mind. Monitor your thoughts. This ancient mindfulness technique has been modernized as metacognition — thinking about your thinking. You might even say out loud, “There’s worry,” “I see anxiety is back,” or “Today’s to-do list is clamoring for attention.”
- Adapt the mind of a photographer. Be still. See the light, texture, and colors around you. Observe without judging.
- Imagine you’re a novelist writing about the scene around you. Describe the setting and mood.
- Feel your own presence and inner energy field. Notice your breathing and the pressure on your feet or buttocks where you sit, stand, or walk.
- Get in the habit of monitoring your emotional state — thinking about your thinking. “How am I feeling right now?” Observe your “monkey mind” (how Eastern philosophers describe our racing thoughts) and smile as you watch it racing to chase one shiny thought after another.
- Look for the lessons in negative events. What do you think you’ll be saying you learned from this five or ten years from now? Is this event waking you up or slowing down your racing thoughts so you can be present in the Now?
In The Power of Now, Eckhart Tolle writes, “Life is now. There was never a time when your life was not now, nor will there ever be…the present moment is all you ever have. There is never a time when your life is not ‘this moment’…you cannot be both unhappy and fully present in the Now…problems are mind-made and need time to survive…they cannot survive in the actuality of the Now.”
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