"Practicing the Art of Living in the Present" is probably a phrase most of us have been familiarized with. The first time I experienced this wonderful dimension of awareness, was several years ago after having my son. As I look back during this period of time in our lives, it felt as if moments had been frozen. I clearly recall rocking in a turquoise green slide rocker for an indefinite amount of time, while singing made up songs horribly out of tune to my sweet blue-eyed boy. Yet, as the years began to pass I found myself back into the hurried pressures of family life desperately trying to keep pace with work and activities of other suburban families. It would not take long before these daily pressures would become a catalyst to some internal changes. About 12 years in to this fast paced lifestyle I felt compelled to slow down my daily routines and rhythms and started to savor life's moments. I did some soul-searching and discovered new ways to change my perspective. I took up photography; I began to volunteer in my community, and started reading spiritually based books. This was how I began to start my Practice of living in the present. Since I began integrating this practice into my lifestyle I have come to the realization that those who live in the present moment or the now seem to be over all more patient, relaxed and have less anxiety and depression.
I wanted to be able to share this practice with others so I thought I would start here by giving you a little insight on how to begin.
STEP 1: Start by taking long deep breaths (3-4) and listen to yourself taking these breaths. Then begin to open up you senses. Ask yourself, what do I smell? What do I see? What do I hear? What do I feel? What are my emotions? If your mind starts to drift and your thoughts go to the past or the future, bring your focus back to the here and now. Sometimes writing down what you're sensing is also a good way to bring your mind and body into the present.
STEP 2: Find a quiet space to begin. I suggest starting in an environment that has few distractions like a park in the great outdoors or a quiet space in your home. Being outside or in your home are two familiar environments that will help allow yourself to focus on your 5 senses. However, once you have tried this a few times it is good to try it in other places to alleviate stress or tension.
STEP 3: I have found that being present requires an individual to set aside his or her ego; this can be one of the most challenging aspects of this practice. In order for us to be present, it is necessary for us to get out of our own mind and view life from an objective perspective. The obvious examples of those who do this easily are children and people who are spiritually grounded. This demographic of folks frequently have low levels of judgment and ego. Therefore it allows them to view life with innocence or purity. Whenever we can view life from the lens of someone innocent, we are looking at the world objectively. If we are able to put our own agenda's aside we can then start to take part in a crystal clear moment. So how do we do this? I gave it a try, and here is what I found.
A few days ago as I took my morning walk to clear the static in my head, I decided to slow down my usual pace and take a different path so I could "Practice the Art of Being Present" As I forced myself to walk more slowly and take in the quiet moments of the this lovely southern park, I sauntered closer to the outdoor theater in the center of the park, There I began to noticed a tall man by himself. As I studied him a little bit longer I noticed he had a wrinkled up paper sack and was scattering birdseed on the green moistened park grass. There he was in the moment practicing the art of living in the present and as I watched him and all the wild life around him in that moment I too was practicing the same. I hope you will open up to having more moments of practicing the art of living in the present.