Following on from Part 1 of “There’s Only The Now”, here are some of the ways being present has helped me, and techniques that anyone can use to be truly in the now.
How it’s improved my life
- Relationships: From personal to business relationships, I find I’m able to be completely present when having conversations, and this benefits me most of all when listening to people. I’m less easily distracted, as I now recognise the triggers that cause me to drift off, and I’m able to stay focused. My relationships have improved 10-fold, because when I’m really listening, I create a stronger connection with people.
- Mental Wellbeing: Understanding the cause of my overthinking, and being able to counteract it at any time by bringing myself back to the now, has had a significant impact on my mental wellbeing. I’m able to come back to a place of inner peace much quicker. I’m happier, more patient, and less prone to negative feelings. In work, I’m able to be more productive, go faster and achieve more.
- Emotional Wellbeing: I found that constantly living either in the past or the future – primarily through dwelling on things that could have gone better, or worrying about hypothetical things that hadn’t even happened yet! – caused negative feelings such as anxiety, frustration, guilt and even shame. Understanding that there is only the now grounds me, and allows me to feel a sense of inner peace, through assurance that everything is as it should be and I’m exactly where I need to be at this moment in time.
- Appreciation of the little things: When I first started practising this, I was astounded by the things around me that I hadn’t really paid attention to before. The detail on tree trunks, cloud formations, the sounds of birds in the trees, the beautiful architecture of buildings/houses. These are the little things that I’ve taken for granted most of my life. Noticing my surroundings has provided me with a renewed sense of wonder and awe of the world that we live in.
Putting it into practice
- Understand it: If you’ve reached this point then hopefully the blog has resonated with you, and you may want to learn more. The most inspirational materials that I’ve read and role models I’ve listened to are:
- Michael Neill – ‘The Inside Out Revolution’ and ‘The Space Within’
- Eckhart Tolle – ‘The Power of Now’
- Tony Robbins (You Tube and Books – I particularly love ‘Awaken the Giant Within’)
- Bob Proctor Seminars (You Tube)
- Louise Hay (You Tube)
If these are not for you, then Google will always give you what you need!
- Become a watcher (not in the creepy sense): I found this to be the simplest, and yet most effective of all the methods. By watching your thoughts, you instantly become aware of them, and naturally bring yourself back to the present moment. The key to this technique is to not judge the thought, but to just become aware of it. Next time you find yourself lost in thought about the past or are making mental movies about the future (you know the ones!), then just be the watcher of what your mind is thinking, and you will feel that sense of inner peace attributed to being brought back to the present.
- Meditation: Meditation is effectively the art of doing nothing. When I first tried to meditate, I was pretty awful, and could manage 10 mins max before becoming fidgety or falling asleep! Practice most definitely makes perfect. Pick a time of day where you can be dedicated and undisturbed. I find guided meditations work well with ear phones, and I also need to lie down. Everyone is different so pick a method that suits you best. There are hundreds of meditation videos on You Tube, which either guide you through it or actually teach the technique. You can also look up a local meditation class. A technique I use is to observe the flow of my breath, inner thoughts, emotions, and bodily sensations without judging them.
- Exercise: Everyone will be different when it comes to exercise. I find that running in the park or woods, is better for grounding me in the now than, say, running on a treadmill. Any exercise can be effective in grounding you in the present moment. The key is to focus on the sensations (i.e.: breathing and movement). My personal favourites are Yoga and Pilates.
- Be in Nature: You don’t have to go mountain climbing or walking through a forest at the weekend. Simply going to a park and sitting on a bench will do just fine. Observe the now by listening to the sounds and admiring the trees, birds, flowers or even the clouds. Try not to people watch as this triggers the part of the brain that causes you to think and judge (according to the neuro-scientist). I practise this when walking down the street, and always when I find myself drifting into a pattern of thinking.
- Acceptance: Like most people I lead a busy life, and every day I’m faced with situations and people that trigger my emotions (aka – my ego). A technique I’ve found invaluable is to allow my emotions to be present without judging them. Effectively it’s accepting the situation and feeling that comes with it, without labelling it or making it a ‘thing’ through judgement, and then just letting it go. Or as I like to call it – building a bridge and walking right over it.
“Nothing ever happened in the past; it happened in the now. Nothing will ever happen in the future; it will happen in the now” – Eckhart Tolle
Catherine Cornwall, Director