Are We Present?

“Living in the moment means letting go of the past and not waiting for the future. It means living your life consciously, aware that each moment you breathe is a gift.” — Oprah Winfrey

Are you living in the present moment? It’s certainly one of my biggest challenges; to not worry about three years from now, or feel guilt or shame over something I did two years ago. I do focus on living in the present. Some days it comes easy, other days not. But I make certain I work at it. Every single day.

How do you focus on the present? Meditation? Breathing practice? Mindfulness? I use a mix of these techniques, but the one that seems to work best for me is to simply do one thing at a time when possible, and pay attention to how that one thing sounds, feels, smells and looks. Toss in the fifth sense–taste–when applicable.

Example: I choose some days to do the dishes by hand. Instead of fretting over how many other chores I have to complete, errands to run, etc., I made certain to pay attention to the senses involved with washing dishes. How warm the water is. The sound of the soap suds as they slowly dissolve into the air and water. The clink of dishes and glasses on the drying rack. The smell of the dish soap. The scrubbing sensations. How my arms, hands, and neck feel as they are involved in the actual labor process. By keeping my mind and senses connected, I stay in the present moment.

Now, granted, this isn’t always possible. My ears have to be perked sometimes for the sounds of my child playing, or the clicking of my dogs’ toenails on the kitchen floor, signaling to me they might need to go outside. But what I’ve discovered is that being in the present helps me to be further in tune to those other things that may need my attention. It heightens the powers of observation–not just with my eyes, but with my ears, and nose too. Some days, even my sense of touch is heightened and amplified. Truthfully, there are more benefits to practicing living in the present than one would expect.

Today, these were some of my thoughts:

When I’m able to focus on the iridescent blue heads of the grackles in my yard as they feed on morning insects, then I’m present.

When I’m able to enjoy the purring gurgle of the coffee pot first thing in the morning, then I’m present.

When I’m aware of the sensations on my body as I shower, or the way the sounds around me are distorted as water cascades over my ears, then I’m present.

When I can chew my food and actually taste that I’m having egg frittata for breakfast, then I’m present.

When I can feel the warmth of the sun as it shines through the window, then I’m present.

“Life is available only in the present moment. If you abandon the present moment, you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply.” — Thich Nhat Hahn

I encourage you to find your strength within to be present. Our fluctuating moods may challenge us day to day, but the more we practice being in the moment, perhaps the frequency of mood changes will lessen. I’m willing to keep at it. Every little bit helps.

Are you present today?

clean_dishes

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