In this world of ever-present TVs streaming endless information and the minutia of other people’s lives on social media, we go through life distracted. It’s time to take control and stop to “smell the roses” by living in the moment.
To fully appreciate life, we need to savor the moment without dwelling on the past and worrying about the future. All too often, the sense of peace required to appreciate life as it unfolds in the present escapes us. Buddha refers the “monkey mind,” with our thoughts running around in our heads like monkeys clamoring loudly for our attention. To tame the mind, take time to just do nothing, and enjoy the feeling of calm and stillness without constant thought. Proponents say that regular quiet meditation can allow us to take control of our minds, our lives and achieve the balance we need to live in the moment.
Golfers know that they play their best game when they focus less on what is going on inside their head and more on their surroundings. That means forming an impression of the way the sun hits the fairway, the way the grass is growing, how the wind is blowing and the ins and outs of terrain around the hole. Ironically, to improve your performance, you have to let go of your self-consciousness and focus more on the world around you. The same holds true for dancing, tennis, other activities and living in general. If you think too much you risk worrying about your performance and what might happen in the future, and you miss savoring the joys of the present.
We experience the world through our senses. Therefore, it is understandable that in order to stay in the moment we need to concentrate more on the immediacy of our sensual input and less on our thoughts of the past and the future. We are happiest when we appreciate the beauty of our surroundings, eat an unbelievably delicious morsel – even if it’s just a juicy peach – and luxuriate in a nice warm shower. Negativity comes into play when we have regrets about the past and worries about future events that may never even happen.
Yoga practitioners know that focusing on your breath as it flows in and out is a good way to calm yourself down and stay in the moment. Slow breathing by extending your abdomen on the intake of breath can trigger a relaxation response that calms fear and increases self control and mindfulness. Bring your mind to the present moment as you concentrate on your breathing, and you will notice that as you become more aware of the moment you will experience calmness in dealing with others.
Remember when you were a kid and played outside, totally immersed in the moment as you engaged in your games? Chances are you were so focused that all your attention was on your activity, your “ego” fell away and time seemed fly by. Psychologists call this the mental state of flow. To live more in the present and enjoy life, spend more time with experiences that produce this state of flow for you, like playing an instrument, drawing, painting, writing, sports, or running a marathon.