“Wherever you are, be all there.” A challenge to a mind wanderer as myself. A lot of times I find myself teleporting my mind, either replaying scenes from my past, imagining possible scenarios in the future or trying to get into someone else’s head, wondering what they might be thinking. While I think reflecting and expecting are not negative concepts per se -they can actually be very beneficial- a lot of us need to rethink how much energy we put into them. When our mind is completely filled with the past, the future or our surroundings, there is no room for the present. While if we throw ourselves into the moment, we shift our focus away from unnecessary worrying or self-consciousness.
Now we’ve established there’s power in the present, how do we get there?
1. Dwell not. Not on your surroundings, nor on time. Stop wandering to other people’s minds -because you really can’t get in there even though you think you can- and don’t go flying to other times. They are either gone and dealt with or not guaranteed yet. Instead of dwelling -which often leads to getting stuck in a vicious cycle- keep flowing along with the present, from moment to moment. After all, the present is always moving.
2. Find balance. Identify unnecessary pressure and take a break from it. Sure, we can’t control everything in life. If there’s some type of work or family crisis, you gotta do what you gotta do and you gotta not beat yourself up about it. However, we do have the power to fill in our free time with activities that help us wind down. What you should do with your free time is different from person to person. If you have a job where you see people all day long, you may benefit from having some alone time. Whereas when you work in a city, it could help to escape to the countryside for a while. And if you are a freelancer, working from home, all you might want to do is go to a city and immerse yourself in the energy of people. There is a common balance to be found in every lifestyle. A balance between rest and activities, being around people verses spending time alone and being in a high stimuli environment verses having peaceful surroundings. It’s important to find your individual balance so you can build a structure around it and bounce back from the pressures of everyday life.
3. Be totally non-productive for a few minutes. No checking your messages. No thinking about what to make for dinner. Don’t even try to meditate. Just breathe. Most of the time we’re so wrapped up in doing something useful that it’s difficult to just do nothing. And if, after a few minutes, you can’t help yourself and want to do some ‘active relaxing’ try exercising or practicing breathing techniques -through yoga, meditation, praying, etc.-. Relax your body and your mind will follow.
4. Be thankful for everything you have now. Because in the now, you actually have everything. Weird but true.
Check out this article if you wish to develop more of an attitude of gratitude.
5. Repeat. Mindfulness (if we’re getting fancy) is not a quality we all naturally possess. Only by practicing you’ll get better.