What It Really Means to Be Present

Have you ever slowed down long enough to be present at the moment? For some, it’s extremely difficult to be in the moment and not let the mind wander with a thousand thoughts. We’re running at warp speed these days and the constant bombardment of things coming at us makes for a jumpy mind that has difficulty being in the moment.

We’re constantly multitasking and even praise ourselves over the ability to do many things at once. The reality is we’re not very good at multitasking. In fact, we’re missing so much when we’re not present and trying to accomplish many things at once. What does being present really mean anyway? How is it possible to slow down long enough to be present?

Being present is living in the moment that is right in front of you. It helps you enjoy the moment as it is happening and connect with people around you. It’s not always easy though. We’re constantly thinking ahead to the next thing or stuck in the past ruminating about old situations. Being working moms, we have about a thousand balls in the air between career, kids, school, sports, self-care, and dinner. That’s just naming a few things!

We are often stuck in thought patterns that we don’t even realize. We think about the past, a lot. We create anxiety when we’re thinking too much about the future. We watch the news, doom scroll on our phones, and immerse ourselves in the problems in the world. We lose the ability to be present with the habits we’ve formed around outside consumption. Focusing on one thing at a time can almost seem impossible, but it’s not.

What Does Mindfulness Mean?

The benefits of mindfulness can positively impact both your mental and physical well-being. According to mindfulness research conducted in 2019, mindfulness practices may help reduce anxiety and depression. It can also help you recognize your thoughts and how you think about certain situations. Even in tough times, mindfulness can help you build resilience and the ability to navigate the ups and downs life will inevitably throw our way.

Being present is a practice much like practicing yoga or meditation. It’s also like building muscles; in this case, your mental muscles are building and growing. Being present is not a perfect science and at times, it can be hard. Altering our habits and focus areas takes practice and with deliberate action, it’s possible to be present and enjoy the moments right in front of us.

So let’s look at how we can break the cycle of the monkey mind and be more present in our lives.

How To Learn Mindfulness

Just Breathe

Deep breathing can be a way to gain some calm. Focus on your breath and only your breath. Take a deep breath and count 1, 2, 3. Hold for a few seconds and then exhale. Really exhale through your mouth until you are empty. Breathing techniques are a wonderful way to be present and calm your mind.

Observe Your Thoughts

What are you thinking about right now? We often wander in our thoughts and ruminate on certain situations in our lives. You can change your thinking habits one thought at a time by taking a breath and observing what you are thinking about. If it doesn’t serve you, then picture yourself on a train leaving the station with that thought or person staying behind. The person or situation will become smaller the more you practice this visualization.

Find a Quiet Place

Chaos surrounds us physically and mentally, especially because of all of the scrolling we do daily. Step away from the phone, television, laptop, and all the devices. Find a quiet place to take a few moments to relax and practice breathing techniques. That will help you get into the present moment.

Yoga and Meditation

I love both! They are really calming for me. I don’t do either one perfectly and that is why it’s called yoga practice or meditation practice. I started off slow with both and practiced for short periods of time. I’ve built up my meditation practice to about half an hour a day. YouTube has thousands of yoga and meditation videos. Find what works for you.

Hint: Meditation doesn’t have to be in silence. My mind would wander even more so I started off with 5-minute meditations on YouTube. I found the type of voice and music that resonated with me. I was hooked! I built up my mediation practice from there. Guided mindfulness meditation is a wonderful gift for yourself that helps to calm and focus your thoughts. You’ll find the right one if you take the time to explore.

Focus on One Thing

A big part of slowing down and being present is focus. Are you focusing on five hundred things at one time? I get it and it’s not fun when your list is so long. Take control of the craze and focus on one thing. Try it one day and practice the train station or breath techniques when you feel your mind wander.

Forget the Future

One thing is certain about constantly thinking about your future and that is anxiety. Being present will help reduce the anxiousness that is a result of focusing too hard on your future. Things happen in their own time and the worry you burden yourself with will not help improve your future. It will rob you of your present. It’s important to plan and have goals. It’s also important to let go and relax the constant thinking about what is coming. Be present with what is and you will also feel the stress reduce over time.

Things happen in their own time and the worry you burden yourself with will not help improve your future. It will rob you of your present.

Pause the Screen Time

We’re all guilty of too much screen time. Many of us use a computer or laptop for work. How much do you doom scroll outside of work? How much time do you spend on your laptop when your workday is done? It’s hard to break the screen time habit. You can take baby steps to reduce the usage.

  • Keep your phone in another room at night while you’re sleeping
  • Set the phone down at least an hour before bedtime
  • Be aware of when you start doom scrolling and put the phone down
  • Remove the apps that you find suck you in the aimlessly scrolling
  • No phones at the dinner table or when you’re at a restaurant (that’s our rule in my house)
  • Go for a walk or meditate first thing in the morning instead of looking through email

Daily Check-in

Hey, how you doin’? Check-in and see how you’re feeling. Are you overwhelmed and tired? Are you thinking about a thousand things? Practice one thing from this list today to help get you into the moment. When your mind wanders, pause and check-in to see how you are doing. You’ll start to notice right away when things are off and that’s your opportunity to practice being present in your thoughts.

Go for a Walk

Walking is a gift. I live in one of the hottest states in the nation and I still make time for walking each day. My walks are around 4:45-5:00am because of the heat, but I love them. Take a break from your mind and walk. Be present by looking at the trees, the front yards you pass by, or the landscape that is around you. That is a great way to be present.

Practice Gratitude

We have so many things to be grateful for. Practicing gratitude doesn’t have to be a long, laborious thing. You can find what works for you. You can write down what you are grateful for, say it out loud, or think of it silently. Practicing gratitude feels good, makes you happy, and brings you back into the moment. Think of something you’re grateful for right now. I bet it made you smile. Try it once a day for the next week and see how it makes you feel.

Your Tribe is Your Vibe

The people you surround yourself with will impact your life whether it’s professionally or personally. Be aware of how the people you see and talk with regularly make you feel. Toxic people can cause anxiety and ruminating thoughts. It can rob you of being present as you try to survive the toxicity of the relationship. Take notice and act if a person or people in your life are negatively impacting it. You can’t be present and live in the moment when people are sucking the life out of you with their toxic vibe. Being around positive and high-vibration people will help you thrive, and this will increase your ability to be present, grateful, and enjoy the moment.

You can practice any one of these methods at home, work, or anywhere for the most part. The key is to try. Look at this as a mindfulness practice because each time you focus on mindfulness, you’re giving yourself an opportunity to learn and grow.

Resources:

How To Be More Present

5 Steps to Being Present

Image by davidrabone0 from Pixabay

2 thoughts on “What It Really Means to Be Present

  1. “Things happen in their own time and the worry you burden yourself with will not help improve your future. It will rob you of your present.”
    So true! I live with a lot of anxiety but it’s getting easier to manage with lots of practices like the ones you mentioned. Great post!

    Liked by 1 person

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