Stay In The Moment
Each and everyday distractions pull at our focus and tug our awareness of the present moment. Whether we are awake or asleep distractions vie for our attention. And while distractions seem inevitable there are ways we can stay in the moment.
We can utilize our awareness to recognize that constant pulling and tugging being visited upon us. We can develop our awareness to help us to create space between the distractions crashing upon our shore, and our ability to stay in the moment.
I’ll share 5 techniques to sharpen your awareness and give you an edge in dealing with distractions, shortly.
Distractions surround us, and not quietly like books on our shelves or the motion of swaying branches outside our windows. The weight of constant distractions make it difficult to stay in the moment, difficult to bring ourselves back into each unfolding experience. Distractions have blinded us to what’s happening in the present moment. As distractions make themselves known it becomes more and more difficult to hold our attention in the present moment.
In today’s environment distractions are more like piercing sirens than a subtle tap on our shoulder. Distractions love to promise us a better life, promise us a warmer heart, promise us more love awaits us on the next block, one flight up from where we’re standing, or certainly only a phone call away. That imagined phone call promises us relief from our suffering for the low price of surrendering our focus and attention.
The phone calls beckons us, the glowing neon tempts us, and the endless hawking of advertising entices us, but sadly all that is delivered is a let-down. Wanting to stay in the moment fades under the massive weight and eerie cackling of distractions.
Something different, is what we want? We crave and grasp like hungry beggars so we might have something different. Our recognizing the craving and grasping is key to helping us stay in the moment.
Our thoughts swirl between isles of awareness and occasionally they make sense, but rarely do our thoughts touch current reality for more than a fleeting moment. Our stream of thoughts when focused can be a joy along a morning walk or a nightmare spilling into consciousness when unfocused, it’s that unfocused state that causes us to look around hoping no one heard our private thoughts.
Rarely is it easy to stay in the moment. It’s not easy to focus on where we are from tick to tock. It’s not easy to focus on what we tell ourselves we want, It’s not easy to stop while we’re in the middle of our day and ask ourselves, is this where I want to be, is this what I want to be doing?
It’s not easy to inhabit each moment because we’re conditioned to give into the siren call of distractions. This giving in requires we pay a high price, the price we pay is the loss of the here and now, the loss of engagement within the present moment.
One question our society frowns upon is this, Why am I uncomfortable with where I am in this moment? The answer, we are uncomfortable because we’ve been convinced that we need “something different, something extra.” As long as we stay convinced that where we are is never good enough, or that we never have enough, we’ll be agitated and wanting.
Maybe we are asking ourselves the wrong questions. We are so caught up in what we are told and what we tell ourselves we should want that we’re lost. Even my inviting you to stay in the moment is not a benign invitation.
No one can tell you, convince you or bribe you into truly knowing what’s happening in reality. The more words I use or the more words and images social networks use the cloudier our understanding becomes. If we want to know what’s happening within each moment we need to inhabit each moment. We need to physically, emotionally and consciously stay in the moment.
I’ve created a list of 5 things each one of us can do to enhance our ability to stay in the moment.
At the bottom of the page is a link to a slide show on the subject that’s available for to download.
Tips For Staying In The Moment
1) Embrace Your Breath. The sounds, sensations and smells found within each breath are gateways to staying in the present moment. Watching you breath while doing everyday tasks can pull you out of the prison that is your relentless stream of thinking.
Be aware of the air coming in and leaving your nose and lungs. No judgement needed, let you breath flow naturally. Watch it while you walk, while you sit and while you think, the breath is an anchor to the present moment.
2) Stop And Ask yourself, What Am I Doing? What am I doing right now? You may be surprised when you ask this of yourself. You could be doing one thing while at the same time thinking about other things.
Many days I will wear a small band around my wrist. It’s purpose is to remind me to stay in the moment. When I become aware that I’ve drifted into the past or future I gently snap the band as a reminder to come back to the present moment. To come back to awareness of what I’m engaged in.
3) Do One Thing, Then Another. It’s easy to find ourselves staring at our web browser and notice we have a multitude of tabs opened, many of them not related to the task at hand.
New and interesting info surrounds us all day long tugging at our attention, disrupting our focus. If we don’t stay in the moment we’ll be swept away down a unproductive rabbit hole.
Try using short blocks of time of 15 to 25 minutes focusing on doing one thing and then take a (short) break before jumping into your work once again with. There are a number useful apps such as the Pomodoro Technique that have shown wonderful results in productivity and in keeping focus.
4) Become Ambidextrous. It may sound like an ascetic call from left field, but learning to eat and write with your non-dominant hand is a gift of being in the present moment.
We’ve all experienced the heated focus required to learn and master something new, that’s what I’m proposing. And while becoming ambidextrous may seem preposterous I assure you it’s not. Choosing something to learn, something as personal as writing and eating with a different hand is a way to learning to stay in the moment.
Learning to construct written pages and to bring food to your mouth with a different hand is difficult, rewarding and divinely personal all at once. Think about it.
5) Be Aware Of Routines And Habits. When Noticing a mindless habit acknowledge it with a smile, and change it in that moment. Change it in some way, turn it upside down or inside out.
Habits can save time and energy, but they also can derail us from current reality and being aware of the present moment.
Try creating a handwritten list of your habits and routines to bring focus and awareness to them. Sit with that list each day for at least 10 minutes, and once you’ve become deeply aware of it start naming each item just before you preform it. Do this until you can dislodge the routine or habit from it’s usual hold on you.
Here’s a Stay In The Moment quote from Pema Chodron
Live Your Life Now, Not Later.
When we give into distractions of any type we make a choice to exit being in the moment. We exit living life in the here in now in favor of living live later. I know that sounds sad and a bit harsh, but take heart, with a little effort on our part we can inhabit each unfolding moment more and more.
As each moment unfolds it bestows it’s opportunity equally to everyone. A moment does not care if you’re rich or poor, tall of short. A moment does not care about any designation or category we’ve been labeled with. There is no judgment from an unfolding moment, there is only now.
Ask yourself, What Can I Do In This Moment?
The largest waves in the world form and crash onto shore, so too does a moment form and crash into existence equally for everyone.
If you found this post helpful, interesting or enjoyable you may find this post on Focus also worth taking a few minutes to read.
Check out this page for some great quotes about living in the present moment