The holiday season is upon us and it sometimes feels like a semi truck barreling down on us, right? It’s so easy to get caught up in the to-do lists so I am giving you 5 ways to be in the present moment so that you don’t miss out on any moment in your precious life.
This is a challenge for me, to be honest. I am probably writing this more as a personal reminder to myself but know other women in the middle of life need to hear this too. I know what I should be doing but sometimes the phone or to-do lists win out. It’s becoming more and more obvious as my two boys and my parents get older that I need to make this a priority. When you look at your baby and he has hairy legs and a deep voice, it’s time to pay attention.
How do you live in the moment?
Put your phone away
Phones are the number one deterrent today to being in the moment, in my humble opinion. Even just having them out on the table, face down, is a distraction during a meal with loved ones. I would place a bet with you that you couldn’t go an entire dinner with a friend without finding an excuse to look at your phone. Try it. I dare you.
Phones keep us from being present by being an attractive nuisance, always beckoning to us with the dings and notifications. It’s the lure of something better on the phone than what is going on around you. I’m going to let you in on a well-known secret….there is nothing more important than the people you are sharing space with in any given moment. Give them your uninterrupted attention and see how your relationships deepen or how you notice something about your spouse and kids you may have missed with your face buried in your phone.
Try keeping your phone in your purse, in a cabinet or in another room the next time you gather together. We have a no phone rule at dinner in our home and we end up having really great conversations. It’s important to show your kids what’s important and it’s not what it is on your phone.
Plan to be present
Planning to be present sounds a little counterintuitive, doesn’t it? Part of being in the moment is spontaneous. However, how many times have you tried to finish up work or tasks around the house while your kid is telling you a story about the latest drama with friends or your spouse is needing to bounce some ideas off of you?
This is where planning comes in. Whether it be a date night with your spouse, an ice cream run with your kids or whatever, plan it ahead of time and be intentional. Or simply make a cutoff time for work and tasks each day so that you can be present in the evening. This way you can get everything done you need to get done so there are no distractions and your mind isn’t 300 miles away at the grocery store or wherever it wanders to.
Give silent blessings to each person in the room
I know, I know, this sounds a little woo-woo. But stick with me here. I learned this as a way to stay in the present moment from my best friend’s mom many years ago. We would have a mother/daughter weekend each year and eat in great restaurants and shop our hearts out. At a sweet little restaurant one night, I caught her slowly looking around the restaurant with a smile on her face. I asked what she was doing and she said she was going around, in her head, to each person in that restaurant and saying a prayer of good wishes for them. She was connecting with perfect strangers and wishing them well in her quiet way. In turn, she was so in tune to what was going on around her and being present in our conversation as well.
I will notice that my mind wanders at times when I am in a group. This little technique helps me to focus on what is going on around me and honestly, makes me feel so happy. That happiness shines on those around me and I am filled with gratitude for those around me.
Focus on the good
There have been many times where I have focused on the bad qualities or shortcomings of others in my life. I dwell on that rather than the good that person possesses. Do you do the same? It can stem from simply the annoying way someone eats to causing you a deep emotional hurt in the past.
If you are struggling with being present with certain people and you can find the good, focus on that. This is even when they are smacking their lips while they eat. Have you figured out my pet peeve yet?
Sometimes, the hurt is a little deeper and makes it more difficult to focus on the good. That begs the question – do you need to extend forgiveness to that person so that you can spend time with them and be present? Or if that isn’t possible and you truly can’t be in the moment, is this someone that you actually want to spend any time with right now? Only you know the answer to that. I am just wanting you to bring awareness so you can be present.
Breath work is imperative to being calm and focused, as evidenced by meditation (not that I meditate. I keep trying though!). Do you ever catch yourself when you aren’t breathing deeply or evenly? I know I have times when my breath becomes shallow and uneven if I am tense or worried. If I am worried, it is usually about something in past or future and NOT in the present moment.
Try this next time you are not in the present moment- inhale 4 seconds, hold 4 seconds and exhale 4 seconds. Repeat that pattern several times and you will be more in your body, aware of yourself and those around you.
Practice being in the present moment
Like I have said, I am far from perfect (just ask my husband or kids) but I desperately want to be better. Just like a sport or cooking, you have to practice to get better at it. I mean, it took me many tries to finally make the perfect margarita. Now, I am working on enjoying that margarita and being present with those around me while I drink it. Okay, I digress.
You can do it too! I am cheering you on.