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How often have you eaten a meal and not really tasted it, completed a chore, or drove to work without really thinking about it?
It’s so easy to get caught up in our thoughts and distractions. Our days often pass us by while our minds are elsewhere.
There are a lot of amazing benefits to being more present and mindful.
Being present helps you to see when you are feeling fear or resistance, uncertainty or the urge to procrastinate, anger or resentment … and then to work with those difficulties mindfully.
No one actually lives in the moment all of the time. It’s a continual learning process. But, with practice, you can learn to live in the moment for longer.
Here are 4 practical ways to practice mindfulness:
1. A Small Regular Practice. Form the simple habit of meditating for just two minutes a day (to start with). After you wake up, simply sit comfortably and try to focus on your breath for two minutes. When your mind wanders, just notice it and label it “thinking.” Gently return to the breath. Set a timer, and when the timer goes off, you’re done! Then start expanding it by a minute every week or so. The benefit of this regular practice is that you learn skills you can take and practice in other parts of your day.
2. Have Mindfulness Bells. You could have a chime regularly sound off on your phone or computer (numerous apps do this) to remind you to pause and be mindful of what’s going on right now. It’s also useful to see other things as mindfulness bells: seeing your child’s face, a traffic light, hearing an alert from an appliance or the computer. Each of these can be a reminder to be present.
3. Reflect Daily. At the end of each day, take a minute to journal or just reflect on how your day has gone. How have you done with practicing being present? What have you struggled with? Have you been using your mindfulness bells and setting intentions? What resistance has come up for you? Daily reflection is one of the most useful habits for continuing to practice and getting better at practicing.
4. See Everything and Everyone as a Teacher. When you’re feeling frustrated with someone, feeling stressed out by work, feeling upset or anxious, pause and see this person or situation as a teacher. What can you learn from them about being present? What attachments can you see in yourself that are causing this difficulty? What stories are you forming that are causing you to feel this way? What can you practice letting go of? What can you appreciate about this moment that you are taking for granted? In this way, every difficulty, every person, everything that arises in the present moment can be a loving teacher that is helping us along the path to being present.