A few days ago, I ran into a friend at Whole Foods. I had been standing in the checkout line texting someone when she arrived. When she popped in line behind me, I was excited to see her but realized after a moment that I had not stopped texting. We moved away from the checkout line and towards the parking lot to catch up for a few minutes, and all I could think about was how rude I had just been.
I guess I looked distracted because she suddenly asked, “Where are you?”
I was somewhere in the past and somewhere in the future, running back and forth between frequencies, delinquent in the present.
It happens all the time.
Staying in the present is hard.
The past feels like an endless black hole constantly sucking me back, while the future is this big bubble of wonders, wants, desires, hopes, and dreams. I do many practices to keep me grounded in the present, but man oh man, it’s not easy.
Staying present is like someone asking you to focus without blinking.
@HayleyHobson (Click to Tweet!)
Our minds are designed to go. Constantly.
Here’s a perfect example. Since I sat down to write this blog, I’ve already checked Facebook messages and text messages twice and flipped to a website to work on another task.
I simply can’t stay focused.
It’s not that my wandering mind is necessarily a bad thing. Some call it multi-tasking. While I know personally I’ll get the blog done—so I’m not worried—I do want to find ways to stay more focused so that it doesn’t take nearly as long.
And in the situation with my friend at Whole Foods, I want to learn how to be there in the moment with her and with others. Don’t you?
We all need to channel our wandering minds so that staying present becomes a little easier, especially in this new Age of Distraction we now live in.
Mobile devices, internet, TVs…it’s way too much.
Here are some ideas to help you live more in the present moment when you find your mind wandering like a Ping-Pong ball.
If you haven’t tried this, meditating sounds uber-boring. The first time I tried it, I was like, “How am I going to sit here for two minutes and do nothing?” Yeah, TWO minutes! But then two became five, and five became ten, and ten easily became twenty.
But I get it. It’s hard in the beginning to sit there and think about nothing. Especially when you can fill all that quiet time up with distractions!
Oftentimes though, the hardest things we try to do in life reap the biggest rewards. Whether it’s getting grounded, steering your health towards the right path, losing weight, or getting into shape. We don’t necessarily want to take the steps, but when we get there, we’re pleasantly surprised we did.
Meditation works. Try it.
2. Practice Listening
I bet that most of the time you are listening, you are not really hearing.
Watch yourself and notice if you’re slipping into oblivion.
Tip: Be easy on yourself, as this is a skill you will need to build up to. It’s not like you can tell yourself to focus and, viola, you’re focused.
You will have to build an awareness practice so you can see whether you are on autopilot or whether you need to bring your presence back into the moment. You may end up constantly reminding yourself to come back, really listen and hear, but eventually you will be able to refine the skill.
3. Do Body-Centric Work
Some like Tai Chi; I like yoga and Pilates, of course. There are many practices that focus on the breath and keep you present.
When your body and spirit are connected, it’s much easier to live in the moment. When you’re disembodied or disassociated, you’re disconnected. Disconnection has unfortunately become the norm in our society. We need to fix this.
Focusing on our breath and our awareness through movement can help.
Whichever one of these steps you decide to try, remember this mantra:
The past doesn’t not own me. I am not my story. The future is in motion. Worrying or obsessing about it takes me out of the only real time I have to live, which is NOW.
I have just given you three great tips to help you live in the present. In what ways do you get distracted? When do you notice it the most? I would love to hear from you. Please leave your comments below.
Hayley Hobson is an author, speaker, business coach, yogi, Pilates instructor, and holistic nutritional expert based in Boulder, CO. Her unique and intelligent style promotes strengthening while softening—empowering her clients to heal not only their physical bodies but their hearts and minds as well. To learn more about her nutritional courses, events, and custom programs, visit hayleyhobson.com or follow her on Facebook or Twitter.
*Image courtesy of Patrick Savalle.