There is a lot of talk nowadays about “staying present” or in the now. Most people get it, and it seems sensible to them, but they don’t know how to live it. They know that thinking about the past is futile, but they can’t help it. They can also see clearly that obsessing or worrying about the future only creates suffering, but they go on doing it anyhow.
In spiritual circles, it’s common for people to say that they feel blissful and present when they are meditating but feel lost and disturbed as soon as they enter the world of daily living.
The most common excuse for not being able to stay present is that the mind just grabs the attention. Of course the reason why your mind was able to grab your attention in the first place is because you allowed yourself to lose present moment awareness.
So are there any practices or techniques to stay rooted in the present while also engaging in the constant struggle called “daily living”? Yes, and the good news is that anyone can practice these techniques, whether you have a spiritual background or not is irrelevant.
Simple Techniques to Stay Present (And Not Lost in Thoughts of the Past/Future)
Here are four simple techniques to increase your present moment awareness:
1.) Stay rooted in your body
Eckhart Tolle, the author of the book “The Power Of Now”, calls this inner body awareness.
All you need to do is to place your attention on your inner body and feel the sensations going through it. The easiest parts to place attention on are your hands and your heart, so start with them.
The benefit of placing your attention on your inner body is that there is a certain pull which keeps you anchored in this awareness. Your mind will want to drag your attention back to it, but the anchorage provided by your inner body, or heart center, helps you retain your presence.
With time you will begin to experience your inner body more vividly. It becomes easier to stay rooted in the inner body once the whole body energy is in your field of awareness.
2.) Be aware of your body’s movements
It might come as a surprise to you that you don’t control most of the workings of your body at all.
The breathing happens on its own, the heart beats on its own and the bloods circulates automatically.
If you look closely you will notice that everything is done by the body, including the thoughts in your brain, the only function which you do is that of awareness.
Your true and essential nature is awareness itself. When you live this true nature there will be peace felt in your body and there is a total surrender to life. You can then just rest and be aware of your body as it goes through the motions. This is a completely effortless way of living and it’s blissful. Your life will become more abundant and enriching each day.
You have to be willing to practice this first hand to get direct experience. Don’t be skeptical, just let go and see for yourself how beautifully your body handles life without your constant interference.
3.) Be one with your breathing
When you are sitting idle or when you are involved in some mundane activity, just place your attention on your breathing. Don’ try to control it, just be effortless and keep your attention on the breathing.
It’s common for people to want to control their breathing as soon as they place their attention on it, but the beauty of this practice is revealed when you don’t make this effort.
Just let the breathing happen and be aware of it. This simple practice has tremendous value in increasing your present moment awareness.
4.) Stay silent and listen
External silence will slowly bring inner silence.
You can also become aware of the silence, or gaps of silence, in your surroundings. Listen to the hum in your ears when there is total silence around you. The small voice in your head that goes on rattling about the past and the future will come to a hush, when the light of such silent presence is shown upon it.
The easier techniques are the inner body awareness and body movement awareness. Of course, there should be a willingness inside you to escape from the insanity created by the mind which is obsessed with the past and future. Without this willingness present moment awareness will just remain a concept in the mind.