How To Live In The Moment

Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment. ~Buddha

Do you ever feel as if life is speeding by so quickly that you don’t have the time to experience it?  Maybe you’re swamped with work deadlines.  Maybe you’re focused on family responsibilities.  Or, maybe you’ve just forgotten how to live in the moment.

Lately I’ve had the opportunity to observe a master of living in the moment – my three-month old son, Caelan.  When he wants to eat, he let’s me know.  He doesn’t wait until it’s convenient.  When he’s tired, he sleeps.  He isn’t worried about being rude to the guests that are visiting.  When he’s happy he smiles and when he’s upset he cries, unconcerned about what others will think.  He truly lives in the moment.

Unlike babies, most adults live with responsibilities and distractions that cause our minds to leap from one thought to the next.  When that happens, we’re robbed of the opportunity to experience and appreciate the present moment.  But we can take inspiration from babies and find ways to be more present in our lives.

Here are 8 ways to help you live in the moment:

1. Tune in to your senses
Tuning in to your senses is one of the best ways to connect with the present and truly live in the moment.  Unfortunately, we all too often dull our senses.  Sometimes we do it intentionally, such as when we block out the sounds around us with music headphones.  Other times we simply ignore our senses.  Have you ever devoured a meal only to realize you didn’t take the time to taste your food?  If you acknowledge and fully experience your senses you’ll become much more present in your life.  Practicing the art of mindful eating is an excellent way to show yourself just how powerful of an influence your senses have on experiencing the moment.

2. Single-task, don’t multi-task
If your attention is divided between multiple tasks it is impossible to live in the moment.  Instead, choose to single-task and focus fully on experiencing the task at hand.  Zen monks practice this in every aspect of their life.  If they are sweeping, they focus completely on sweeping.  If they are cutting vegetables, they cut vegetables and nothing else.  Focus on one task at a time and live in the moment.

3. Find your flow
Athletes describe being in “The Zone” as their thoughts and actions flowing seamlessly and with ease.  Artists describe a similar experience in which their creative process takes over and a paintbrush directs itself across a canvas or words effortlessly flow on to the page.  These are excellent examples of living in the moment.  Have you ever experienced this kind of flow in your life?  Perhaps when you cook, when you dance or even when you become immersed in work you’re passionate about?  Spend time doing these activities and when you experience that flow know that you are truly living in the moment.

4. Step back
Most of us are furthest from living in the moment when in stressful situations.  Stress forces us out of the present and we begin to think ahead to the future or to rehash the past in our minds.  Have you ever argued with your partner and later realized that you didn’t listen to what they were saying because you were focused on what you wanted to say next?  The next time you find yourself in a stressful situation, step back.  View the situation as an external witness and watch the events unfold.  This will help you to remain present and better able to respond rather than react.

5. Breathe
The list of responsibilities and distractions we face in life is endless.  They can become overwhelming at times and will easily pull us out of the moment.  The next time you find yourself overwhelmed by thoughts racing through your head, breathe.  By doing so you’ll become refocused and return to the moment.  Here are some tips on how to harness the power of your breath.

6. Meditate
Taking the time to breathe properly can help you refocus and return to the present moment when your thoughts become overwhelming.  However, meditation can help you calm your mind and de-clutter those distracting thoughts that cause you to loose focus in the first place.  Read Meditation 101 for a simple beginner’s guide to meditation.

7. Face your self-conscious fears
It’s impossible to live in the moment if you’re worried what others may think of you.  It is intimidating to put ourselves in the spotlight when we’re self-conscious, but it’s necessary if we’re going to live in the moment.  Start out small.  For example, if you’re scared to speak in public, ask to lead your next staff meeting.  Having dinner with friends?  Rehearse a short toast.  Look for opportunities to face your fear one small step at a time.  Once you’ve gained more confidence, you’ll be less concerned with the opinions of others and be better able to experience the moment.

8. Ignore the future and let the past be
If we’re focused on the future or the past, we’re not in the moment.  But, being focused on the future or past isn’t always as obvious as reminiscing about old times or planning your schedule for next week.  For example, I’m always amazed to see people who view their entire vacation through a camera lens.  They’re so concerned with capturing a moment in time so that in the future they can look back on a past moment.  Unfortunately, their preoccupation with capturing the moment on film often means they’ve missed experiencing the moment itself.  Let the past be, ignore what is still to come, and simply experience the now.

It is impossible to always live in the moment, especially given the hectic world we live in.  However, by using some of the tips above we can spend more time connected to the present and less time distracted by what has happened or what’s still to come.

What tips do you have for living in the moment?

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  1. Marisol Lopez |

    Please include me in your database.

  2. Great post. The 8 ways are a lovely summary of how to return to presence (not an easy feat!). Thanks.

  3. Great article,wish I knew more on meditation. Any suggestions? Thx. Dave

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