The advancements of the present time have certainly changed our lives for the better. The way it has and continues to make our lives easier and efficient is remarkable. However, there is no such thing as a free lunch. You can’t expect the conveniences of modernization that you relish every day to come with no strings attached. Much like literally everything else, there are a few side effects as well. Thanks to our over-reliance on technology, our entire lives are being constantly documented. This is what makes it harder for us to let go of the events in the past, the thoughts of which come uninvited to haunt us in the present. Since detaching from the past is harder than it sounds, getting lost in it is common to a lot of us.
On the other hand, being a part of the fast-paced era, there is always something happening in our lives and something that is imminent in the near future. Living a successful life without proper planning and anticipation is getting nearly impossible. This is what raises a question on the importance of “living in the moment”. It is perhaps the most frequently and widely shared advice to not dwell in the past or overthink about the future. The essence of being present in your own life is not lost on the majority of us. But under the circumstances created by the kind of lives that we are leading in the modern age, one may question “HOW”. How do you take charge of the moment? How do you seize the day and not worry about what you have already gone through or be scared of what is yet to come? How do you start to live in the present moment?
If you have been searching for answers to such questions, then congratulations, your search ends here. The good news for you is that all of your answers lie in a habit that doesn’t take more than twenty minutes of your time every day. Meditation and mindfulness exercises are what you need to cope with the daily anxiety and make yourself calm and peaceful for the purpose of bringing your attention to the present moment. It’s a practice that you’ve heard of, but it’s time that you get the hands-on experience of it.
Being “here and now” – What does it mean?
The first thing before you take up the habit of meditation to start living in the present moment is to realize what it actually means to be “here and now”. It is not just another one of those fancy statements or phrases that are flaunted by the psychologists and other mental health professionals. Rather, it is a well-researched, evidence-based lifestyle that is widely recommended for people who are fighting a battle against the common mental disorders including chronic anxiety, depression, etc. As the name suggests, being present in the moment means that you are in charge of your entire attention and focus. It is not being scattered in the worries of the past or the fear of the future. It means that you have complete awareness of what is going around yourself. Being here and now, in simple words, translated into your mental capacity to keep your focus in one place, in the present moment, and preventing it from being distracted of the troubling or unnecessary thoughts.
Living In The Moment – How Is It Important?
If you have ever had a panic attack or have had experienced excessive stress and anxiety, you can testify that in most, if not all of the cases, the root cause lies somewhere in the past, or in the future. Events happening in the present can cause stress or anxiety but it is almost always episodic. It is natural for your body to respond to a threat with a fight or flight response. And once the threat has been tackled with, the emotions slowly fades away. However, the chronicity of the aforementioned condition hints towards disturbing thoughts which are associated with the past or the future. By bringing your attention entirely to the present moment, to the events occurring around you which are positive and harmless in nature, can cause a significant reduction in the stress and anxiety that you are experiencing consistently. It activates your natural relaxation response and restores peace and happiness in your life.
20-Minute Daily Meditation Techniques To Be “Here & Now”
Considering the above-mentioned information, it has been established that focusing on the positive and harmless events of the present can have a soothing effect on your mind. We have taken the liberty of accentuating a few of the meditation exercises that you can practice literally anywhere in order to bring yourself back to the present moment. All of the mindfulness exercises mentioned below don’t take more than 20 minutes of your time and are highly effective if you have made the decision of letting go of your destructive habit of overanalyzing the past or the future.
Meditation is a broad phenomenon with a wide range of exercises and practices. Regardless of the regime that you are following, you start your daily meditation with slow, deep breathing. All you need to practice this exercise is a silent corner and a comfortable place to sit. Close your eyes and take a deep breath. Remember to inhale the air slowly and get a sense of it gushing into your lungs. For your own convenience, you can keep the rhythm of counting to four as you inhale the air into your body. Make sure that you are not immediately exhaling it out the body. Take two to three seconds before you start to exhale the air out with the same rhythm. Again, you can count to four while pushing the air completely out of your lungs. Repeat the process for at least two to three minutes.
Once you are done with the breathing exercise, your next step for the twenty minutes meditation regime that helps you cope with stress and anxiety, and start living in the moment is a body scan. The requirements are identical for this mindfulness exercise as it follows the one mentioned above. Lie straight on the floor in a silent corner of your house. With deep rhythmic breathing, try to bring your entire focus to one particular part of your body. For instance, you can put your entire attention to your foot. The objective of this exercise is to feel the part of your body. Get a sense of it. It is understandable to have distracting thoughts along the process, especially as long as you have NOT yet mastered the skill of being in charge of your focus. So don’t be aggressive in fighting these thoughts. Be gentle and try to calmly push them away while focusing back on the body part. Repeat the process with several different parts of the body and get a sense of what they feel like.
The last exercise emphasizes the goal of bringing your attention entirely to the present. For this purpose, you are required to choose a positive, harmless event occurring in the present. It could be a visual like a picture or perhaps a leaf, or a soothing sound like that of a symphony or a guided meditation track. The goal is to put the picture in front of you or play the track and with deep breathing, slowly trying to bring your focus to it. In case of a picture or leaf, pay attention to the details, the pattern, the texture, the size, and shape etc. Similarly in case of the audio, pay attention to the details like the pitch of the sound, the bass, the treble, the melody, get a sense of what it feels like to your ears.
Repeating this exercise for a few minutes every day is a time efficient, effective strategy to cope with daily stress and anxiety. It helps in restoring the balance of your thoughts by pulling them out of the worries of the past or the future. You can practice this exercise to bring yourself back to the present moment and make yourself calm, peaceful, and happier.
Your workout regime at the gym takes months before you can see the results. Academia takes years before it makes you smarter or sharper. Dieting takes months before it sheds that extra layer of fat off your body. Much in the same way, meditation and mindfulness practices are going to summon your patience too if you want to experience its true essence. It’s not because the exercises take a lot of time to PRODUCE the effect, but primarily because it takes a little bit of time to master the application of these meditation and mindfulness practices. Rest assured, if you are patient and consistent, the outcome is going to be beyond satisfactory. There’s a reason why meditation is being practiced for years. And it’s time for you to witness that reason first hand.