We’ve all heard before that we should live in the present moment and make every second count. I agree, and when I do hear it I manage to be present for about 5 minutes before I go back to thinking about the past or the future. It can be a struggle to stay in the now, especially when you’re faced with challenges in life.
But there’s a reason why mindfulness has become so popular. It seems like a simple idea to “just embrace the present moment”, but it is critical to living a healthy and fulfilling life.
It’s not fanciful either, a recent Harvard Study found that people who were more focused on tasks, rather than daydreaming, were happier.
These three quotes from Eckhart Tolle crystallizes why anything but present moment awareness can lead to suffering:
1) “All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”
2) “Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”
3) “As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love—even the most simple action.”
How to live more in the present moment
Considering Eckhart Tolle’s advice, how do we actually go about living in the present moment?
Here are 6 pieces of advice that will help you do so:
1) Do one thing at a time
Single-task, don’t multi-task. When you’re eating, just eat. When you’re pouring water, just pour water. A famous Zen proverb says: “When walking, walk. When eating, eat.”
2) Do it slowly and deliberately
Take your time with things and move slowly. Make your actions deliberate, not rushed or random.
3) Do less
If your lessen your to-do list you can do those things more slowly, more completely and with more concentration. What’s more, you’ll probably do a better quality job of those tasks.
4) Spend at least 5 days each day doing nothing
Just sit in silence and be with yourself. Notice the world around you. Learn to get comfortable with stillness and yourself.
5) Stop worrying about the future or the past
Become more aware of your thinking – are you constantly worrying about the future? Learn to recongize when you’re doing this and bring yourself back to the present.
6) Focus on your senses to get back in the present moment
One of the best ways to experience the present moment is to focus on your senses. So when you’re eating food, focus on the taste of the food. When you’re in the shower, feel the water hitting your body.