#44 Practical Ways to Be Present

I’ve been practicing meditation with formal and informal training for a few years now. Today I wanted to share practical things that have worked for me and may work for you.

Now before I begin, let me just reference that meditation is much more than sitting in one place with your eyes closed for extended periods of time. Although, I do this for about an hour a day, it came with practice, and making the decision to live as a monk for 10 days, I’ve learned that moments of joy and bliss are open to us at all times.

Let us explore further and together.

Focus on the task at hand

When the problems in your life become overwhelming and thoughts about the past and future start to consume you, take a few breaths and just focus on this moment. Literally focus on what is happening in front of your eyes and nothing else.

For example, nothing in your world is happening right now except you reading these words. Whatever you do throughout your day, even the most remedial task, like washing your hands in the bathroom — just stay in that space.

Focusing on the task at hand might seem rudimentary and commonplace, but this is not the case with our minds. It enjoys to fritter to events that are not here. Whenever you find your mind running, just look down at what you’re doing and focus on that. Sometimes my mind will chatter when I’m in nature and I’ll literally focus on a tree branch for a few minutes to bring me back to the present moment.

No matter where the mind runs off to, we can only complete one task at a time. Take life this way and complete every task to the best of your ability. Anything less is compromising your self worth.

Be aware of the breathe

Breathing is something we do automatically and unconsciously but when we start to breathe consciously, we are able to ground ourselves and come back to the present moment.

When I find myself anxious for whatever reason, I simply start to breathe. Taking 10–20 breaths in succession has helped me considerably.

Try it now if time permits. Close your eyes. It doesn’t matter if you’re sitting, standing, or walking. Take 5 deep breathes and exhale deeply with each one.

How did you feel? I often feel a rush of calm and peace.

Practice gratitude

How we conduct ourselves in the morning is a preview of how the rest of our day will turn out.

I wake up and practice gratitude every morning. I’m thankful for another day on this planet. I’m thankful for family, friends, and that I get to write for you.

When you start to be thankful for what you have, you start to chip away at the things you don’t, thereby feeling more abundant. Being nourished and satisfied with what you have is an extremely powerful quality.

I’ve noticed others enjoy spending time with me because they know that being themselves around me is all that I want. In other words, there is nothing someone can give me to make me more happier.

Start the day with an intention

When I first started doing this it felt a little weird but now setting an intention for the day has awakened me to live deliberately.

I’ll write my intention or say it out loud. It will usually go something like this:

  • Today I write with compassion. Every word that I write will be to help others with their day
  • Today I am grateful for being alive. With joy and smiles, others will see my gratitude and they will be in a state of joy
  • Today I will take care of my body by putting wholesome food in it for I know that this engine is a vehicle for others, and I must put quality fuel in it if I am to make a difference
  • Today my thoughts will be centered around love. Everything I do will be done mindfully and lovingly. If I put love and care into everything I do then it will be done well.

Enjoy the taste of food

For a long time it was hard for me to enjoy food without some sort of external stimuli. I needed some music, television, or a book to keep my mind occupied while eating.

These days I simply enjoy eating for what it is. I take my time with every bite. I’ve become aware of all my senses when I consume food. The smell of warm dal, the crunch of a fresh apple, and the beautiful red hue of beets in my morning shake tend to add a lot of amusement to my day.

Mindful walking at work

If you have a 9–5 type desk job then it becomes even more important to get up and move around. It’s important to make it a priority to walk and leave the sedentary nature of the workplace.

During your breaks or lunch time, go outside and walk. Notice the wind, the sky, and the conversations with people as a unifying force. Walks can start to take a whole new meaning. It’s a time where one can silence the mind and unlock creativity and inspiration.

I hope some of these practical reasons can help you throughout your day. We have all the tools at our disposable to live mindfully. We can practice presence at anytime because it’s available all the time.

With Love,

Anand Swamy

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