Mindfulness: Being Present

Mindfulness can help you practice being present and staying present.

Leo Tolstoy nailed it when he said, “There is only one time that is important – NOW! It is the most important time because it is the only time that we have any power.” We spend so much time ruminating about the past, planning for the future – all the while missing out on our short, precious lives. It’s hard to get a real sense of fulfillment or satisfaction in your life if you’re not actually present enough to appreciate it!

That said, it’s not at all that easy to be present… and even harder to stay present!

Even Zen masters struggle to let go of thoughts and distractions to stay present and mindful in the moment. You may have heard the term mindfulness, a concept and associated practice with roots in Buddhist meditation that has become quite mainstream in our present day culture. Mindfulness means non-judgmental awareness of both your inner psychological world and the outer, material world around you.

Mindfulness means practicing the skill of being present.

Essentially, it refers to being here now, present and without distraction. Here is one very basic formula to practice mindfulness that works for many people:

  1. Get comfortable, in a stable, relaxed position.
  2. Breathe.
  3. Observe/notice/focus on any single thing or sensation that is in this moment – your breath, a thought, a smell, sound, or taste.
  4. Stay focused on that one thing with openness and curiosity – really study it, analyze it, attend to it fully. When other things, thoughts, sensations take your attention (and they will!), acknowledge them but then gently turn your attention back to that single thing.

Try it. It may sound like a silly little exercise, but it is an opportunity for 3, 4, 5, or 10 minutes to practice being present.  To practice letting go of the things that distract you from this moment, and keep you from being here…now…in ultimate control of your life.

And practice, as you know makes, present — I mean perfect!

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