The present moment – a moment coloured in facets and aspects of an unfiltered reality, thoughts and impressions of past and future absent, distant. A gaze that is clear and sharp, smells and sounds that transports you into the now allowing your mind to meander in the intricacy of what is right here, right there, offering information that enlarges and enriches what is happening right around you. To hold the whole of our personal experience.
Where does consciousness, your awareness take you? And now? And now? What is it that reveals itself to you moment by moment?
To live in the presence or at least to return to presence on a daily regular base sets the tone for life. In our hectic, full twenty-first century lives this is has shown to be a difficult undertaking. At all times life offers something that needs us to either anticipate or prepare for and thanks to our digital devices life has never been so well-documented that it becomes easy for us to dwell and get lost in the past.
Anxiety, panic, stress and unhappiness have become a new norm. We lost the ability to realise that getting pulled into the past and future has effects that can leave us perpetually worn out and out of touch with ourselves.
So what does it mean to live in the present moment? And how do we live in the present moment?
Living in the present is not just an arbitrary term or a popular phrase—it is a recognised and evidence-backed lifestyle that are quick to recommend for anyone struggling with anxiety and stress in their day-to-day life.
Being in the present moment, or the “here and now,” means that we are aware and mindful of what is happening at this very moment through the experience and perception of our senses. We are not distracted by ruminations on the past or worries about the future. In the moment of ultimate presence time, judgement, opinions, thoughts become irrelevant concepts. You can make most of your time by actually losing track of it.
Being present and exerting our ability to be mindful not only makes us happier, it can also help us deal with pain more effectively, reduce our stress and decrease its impact on our health, and improve our ability to cope with negative emotions like fear and anger, making us less reactive and enable us to be with what is, to increase our capacity to hold all of what life has to offer.
How can we cultivate presence?
There are multiple ways that support cultivating presence on a day to day base. It should be mentioned that none of the mentioned tools and techniques are one-stop-solutions, however, through consistency great awareness can be achieved to not only experience the present moment, but also to practice and expand the ability to drop in in no time.
Digital Detox: Gift yourself the opportunity and space to switch off from the digital world at least once a week, if you manage once a day that is even better. Give yourself time in the morning to ease and feel into your day before touching your phone or any device. Especially in the mornings you are fresh, most open and receptive to the ether and all the magic of the universe. Use this in your favour.
Be in nature: Since we are from nature and a part of nature, nature has an incredible effect on our nervous systems. Forest walks, fresh air, nature sounds are the most effective tools to drop into presence and to spend time observing the present moment. Taking advantage of the natural beauty around us is an incredible way to cultivate greater mindfulness.
Journaling: Journaling is an incredible powerful practice to expand on thoughts, move through them, contemplate on them. Your journal gets to be the place where you can hold a deliberate, thoughtful conversation with yourself. It means to come into relationship with your mind - without the sabotage and the storytelling. To pour and spill the thought’s gatherings of the night onto a physical place and let them cascade off your being. To write your heart out requires to be present with what comes through.
Visualisation: visualisation is a technique that helps to visualise a desired outcome. Visualisation activates the creative powers of the subconscious mind. Visualisation is a form of manifestation. Muhammad Ali’s famous quote sums it up perfectly: “If my mind can conceive it and my heart can believe it – then I can achieve it”. Visualisation also has the effect to reduce stress in your daily life. Generally speaking, you need to imagine the specific situation in as many details as possible using all your senses – you can see it, smell it, hear it, feel it and taste it. Make it real.
Yoga: Movement is a gateway to presence with the help of the mind-body connection as well as our breath. When we focus our attention on our breath, we have no choice but to be in the present. Yoga’s gentle flow from one position to the next is a perfect opportunity to cultivate the ability to stay present. The transitions mimic the changes we experience in life.
Meditation: Meditation is an incredible tool to tap into what is there and even to come into the awareness to hold more of what life has to offer. To focus on your breathing, a word, or a mantra and allowing thoughts to come and go without judgment.
Not everything needs to be taken personal: To not take life and all its events as something personal, but instead as an understanding that we are all a part of something bigger is an approach that can support you in moving through everyday life. Understanding that we are all part of a bigger picture and that we get to decide how to put our energy into perspective. Taking life's details not as something personal makes events more relative and easy to digest.
Community support: To lean into the support of community, to facilitate the sensation of being held and support can be a great way to tap into presence and inquiry about what is happening in your life. Understanding that nothing has to happen on your own, can support your way into presence.
What are your ways to cultivate presence? Share with us in the comments!