If you want to learn how to live in the present moment, use the 4 techniques outlined below to become more centered in the now.
If you’ve come to this article because you’re looking for information about how to live in the present moment, you’ve probably already heard of its importance. But it may seem like a complicated or mysterious thing to master.
It isn’t, and you’ll see how simple the process can be when you use one or more of the methods I’ve explained below.
According to Psychology Today, people who live in the moment tend to be happier, calmer, more relaxed, and more grateful.
You’ll also find that when you’re more mindful of the present, you’ll make better choices for yourself and the health of the environment. It makes an eco-friendly and minimalist lifestyle easier to maintain.
So, what exactly does it mean to be present or live in the now? I’ll start with a definition to help you begin your personal journey of awareness in your daily life.
What Does It Mean to Be Present?
One of the dictionary definitions of being present is “existing or occurring now.”
Simply put, for a person to be present in this moment, they must have their attention on the now. It means they aren’t caught up in the past or looking ahead to the future.
They have their full focus on what is happening at this very moment. And because many people tend to be driven by the thoughts going on in their minds, it can be challenging to keep their attention from wandering.
Being present is such a powerful way to relax and become calm because most of the problems we think we have and the suffering we endure takes place in our minds when we fret about the past or worry about the future.
To help you achieve the process of being present, I’ll walk you through 4 simple techniques to help you keep your attention in the now. By practicing them often, you’ll find it easier to do this as time goes on.
The first, and one of my favorites because it’s so easy to do anywhere, involves the breath.
1. Bring Awareness to Your Breathing
The beauty of bringing your attention to your breathing is that it’s convenient. You can practice it anywhere, at any time, and it won’t draw unwanted attention.
It’s a good habit to practice this as often as you can during your daily activities so that it becomes almost second nature and easy to switch to when you feel you need it.
The basis of this technique is to become aware of the rhythm of your breath as it moves in and out in a natural way.
It really isn’t any more complicated than that. Just pay attention to each breath as it comes in and out. You don’t need to breathe in a special way or do anything different. Just pay attention.
Your breathing is happening right now, so by paying attention to it, you’re living in the present moment. It’s all that’s required.
At the precise moment you are noticing your breaths, you are neither focused on the past or the future. It’s not possible. And it keeps you from chasing the thoughts swirling around in your mind.
But keep in mind that, especially in the beginning, your mind will probably wander frequently. Just notice it without judgment and bring your attention back to your breath.
You haven’t failed or done anything wrong. It happens to everyone and is just the way we generally operate.
Notice it and go back to what you were doing. My mind still wanders at times, but it’s less than in the beginning.
Take time to do this technique several times each day for a few minutes or as long as it feels comfortable. With practice, you’ll find it easy to do in a variety of situations, whenever you need to.
Next, I’ll explain how you can achieve this same type of focus by placing your attention on a nearby object.
2. Choose an Object to Focus On
For this method, you’ll choose an object to focus on. It doesn’t matter what it is or if it’s living or inanimate. You just look at it without thinking about naming it or applying labels.
As you gaze at it, bring your attention to details like color, shape, or texture, but without seeking to analyze it.
After a few moments, you may feel the energy or aliveness of the object, especially if it’s a living thing like a flower or pet.
It’s possible you’ll feel like you’re seeing the object for the first time. It’s a good thing because it means you’ll have moved out of your thoughts and placed your awareness in the present moment.
This process works the same as focusing on your breathing, except you substitute an object for your breaths.
It’s also something you can do in many situations. You can focus on something on a bus, in your office, at home, or at school.
The principle is the same as before. While your attention is on that object, it isn’t in the past or future, and it prevents you from pursuing the racing thoughts in your mind.
Next, I’ll explain how the object you focus on can be your own physical body, which is convenient because you take your body wherever you go.
3. Give Attention to Your Physical Body
You may not be aware that your physical body is a portal that allows you to enter and rest in the present moment. If you place your attention on your body and notice its aliveness, you’ll shift into deeper consciousness.
And, unlike other objects, you have a closer relationship with your body that makes it a more effective tool for becoming present. It also thrives more when you give it this kind of positive attention without judgment.
This method works well if your eyes are closed, but it’s also fine to leave them open. In the beginning, it will probably be easier if you close your eyes. That was my experience.
To engage this technique, bring your focus to various parts of your body, noticing how each part feels at that precise time. Does it ache? Is it relaxed? Is it tense? A shift will happen that you are aware of, and you’ll start to notice your “beingness.”
And as I indicated above, this practice is also a great way to become friends with your physical form, especially if there are things about your body that you don’t like or appreciate.
Instead of dwelling on your perceived flaws, notice how alive your body is and the miracle of all it can do.
If you add attention to breathing while you pay attention to your body, it can be a powerful way to relax and become still.
Next, I’ll cover how truly paying attention to what you’re doing can be a wonderful way to let go of frustration and enter the stillness of the present moment.
Hint: Frustration with any task comes from wanting it to be over and not giving it your full attention as you are doing it.
4. Give Your Full Attention to a Task
Any tasks that you carry out during your daily life have the potential to move you into the present. Gardening, cleaning the toilet, ironing clothes, or feeding the cat can all be forms of meditation.
Take any activity that you do and turn it into a way to enter the present moment and become more conscious.
You’ll stop thinking about random thoughts when you give daily chores your full attention. That’s the reason time seems to fly when you do something you like. You’re giving it your complete attention and time seems to stop.
Here’s an example of what that looks like:
You need to peel carrots for supper. Instead of rushing through the task and getting it over with to get on to the next thing, give it your full attention.
Pay particular attention to what the carrots look like, how they smell, the feeling in your arm as you peel, the colors of the vegetables inside and out.
When you notice the details and don’t rush to just get it finished, you’re more present and centered, allowing peace to unfold. And it will take the same amount of time anyway.
So there you have 4 practical and straightforward methods for becoming present throughout your day.
As you practice your favorites, you won’t need to have a special time and place unless you want to. They’ll become an easier way to just be, wherever you are and whatever you’re doing.
The real work involves being consistent in your practice. After you’re comfortable with one technique, add others to mix it up, and increase your mastery.
It’s important to give it time. Let it become something you do without expectations and you’ll find it soon becomes natural to live in the present moment.