Strategies For Staying Present

We are all becoming familiar with the phrase “staying present” or becoming “self aware” or “conscious”, but what does that mean? These terms refer to doing things with purpose, intention and awareness. Quite often we are on automatic pilot, going through our jobs, our daily chores and even some of our relationships with routine alertness, like a worker on an assembly line. With little thought, questioning or meaning goes into our daily lives, we lack purpose, fulfillment and peace. The following are some strategies for staying in the present moment:

1. Listen To Your Thoughts -By listening and acknowledging your thoughts you are actually becoming instrumental in controlling them. Many of us, in our hurry to get on with life, either bury the thought if it conjures up painful emotions or we ruminate the same thought over and over again in our heads, often exaggerating the situation or hyper-analyzing it. Neither of these are good:

Buried Emotions = Chronic Illness

From Nelson Mandela:

Your beliefs become your thoughts,

Your thoughts become your words

Your words become your actions

Your actions become your habits

Your habits become your values

Your values become your destiny

Instead, every so often acknowledge the thought you are thinking. If it is positive – great, but if not ask yourself where this thought originated. It may be something that was said to you as a child and has absolutely no value today but you are still carrying it with you as an adult. Dispel it, get rid of it! Whatever you do, get to the bottom of it and do not try to pass it off. Try turning it around so it becomes a positive, empowering thought.

Here is an example of what you might be churning over and over again in your head after speaking with someone, “What a stupid thing to say. Why I am I always saying such stupid things?” You are not always saying stupid things. And why is it that you are of the opinion that the things you say are perceived as stupid? Where did this thought originate – go back and dig it up – a teacher? a parent? Now turn it around – “I sometimes say some funny things but I think that is what people like about me” or “I am always able to say something silly to lighten up a situation”. Find the positive.

2. Do Something that You Enjoy – Ever notice how in the moment you are when you are dancing or singing to music. What about when you are scuba diving, painting, surfing, or making love. Do you stop in the middle of whatever you are doing and start thinking about a conversation you had with your colleague at work yesterday or the bills you have to pay next month? (If so, I suggest you get a new lover!)

3. Meditate – I am big on meditation. You learn so much about yourself and you can take yourself as far as the imagination can stretch through meditation. It can help you to become more focused so you perform tasks more efficiently. Meditation provides clarity so you see things in a more refined manner, not just in the obscure way that you may mentally perceive things. It can also open the door to change – and this is big when we are talking about personal growth, improving health and going through a challenging period in your life. Start with five minutes a day and try to work up to doing 15 minutes or more in the morning and before bed. You will be amazed by the results. For beginners I really suggest a guided visualization because the mind has a tendency to wander when you are new at this.

4. Yoga – Like meditation, the benefits of yoga are numerous, particularly if you have a good yoga instructor who really helps you get into the mind/body connection. Take a few classes at different places and shop around before you commit to one studio. Not only will your body thank you for opening it up and becoming supple, but you will start to release crap – not just toxins, I mean all the stuff that has made you rigid over the years – your mother’s issues, your best friend’s issues, your dog’s issues – all of it. If you are only 20, you will likely have less crap than someone who is 55, but even if you are 75, you are not too old to start yoga. It is one of the best methods of teaching yourself to get into your body and just be there.

These are a few of the methods of learning to stay present and they do work with practise. This is one of the most important skills we can learn and use on a daily basis to keep our thoughts in check and our stress and anxiety levels at a minimum.