“Just allow yourself to be in the present moment.”
How many times have you heard that one before? Easier said than done, right?
As a yoga teacher, I sometimes forget how much practice it’s taken me to be able to easily forget my to-do list and slip into the elusive present moment.
That’s the thing about presence: it’s a practice. It’s also an action. But when you go to the gym for the first time, you’re not going to pick up the fifty-pound dumbbells. You’ll pick up the three-pounders and gradually increase the weight as you get stronger. It’s all about starting small.
In the same way, presence is something you want to start practicing in the smallest of ways.
Here are five simple ideas to help you get started.
1. Practice Active Listening
This one can feel weird at first, but it’s one of the quickest ways to practice being present (and you’ll be a better friend, too).
The next time you’re meeting a friend for coffee, notice what happens when the other person is talking. Are you thinking about what you’re going to say next? Are you diverting your attention to the stranger sitting at another table?
Active listening means listening with all of your attention. Once the person is done talking, then you pause and reflect on how you’d like to respond. That way you’re not just trying to fill space.
Try it out and notice how much other people appreciate how attentive you are.
2. Observe the World Around You
How often do you take the time to take in your environment as you’re going about your day? We usually take the same route to work, to the grocery store, or to meet friends. The next time you’re walking down a familiar street, try tuning in to your senses. Notice what you see, hear, and smell. Notice the feeling of the air or clothing on your skin. Suddenly a familiar neighbourhood can feel brand new!
3. Put Your Phone Away
Technology has a way of creeping into our days, stealing time away from loved ones, and even making us feel lethargic and unproductive.
Try setting a limit to how often you use your phone. My favourite thing to do is make a rule where I can’t look at my phone for the first 30 minutes after waking up. It can be hard to apply, but once you’ve created a new routine you’ll realize how much better it is to start your day with your own thoughts instead of mindless scrolling on Instagram.
Whether you’re having lunch with a friend or riding the elevator, try to keep your phone in your pocket or bag. Constantly checking for notifications takes you away from the present moment and the people you’re with.
4. Keep a Gratitude Journal
I’m a huge fan of journaling. There’s just something special about putting pen to paper instead of writing a note in your phone.
Maybe you don’t have 30 minutes to write every day, so why not try keeping a gratitude journal by your bedside? Every morning or night, write down three things you’re grateful for. At the end of the year you’ll have an amazing summary of all the great things you’ve experienced in the last year.
5. Eat Mindfully
For at least one meal a day, try not to multitask. That means not reading your favourite blog―not even this one ;)―or doing chores between bites. If you want to up the ante, try sitting down while you eat and chew every bite at least eight times. Your mind AND your digestion will thank you!
What other ways do you practice being present? I’d love to hear from you!
Keep living your truth,
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