What Does It Mean To Live In The Moment?

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How Often Do You Stop To Smell The Roses?

BY EMMA BOLES

Are you living in the moment? Before you answer that, stop and think about this. How often do you eat in such a hurry that you don’t really taste or enjoy the food you’re eating? Have you ever driven somewhere and arrived at your destination not really remembering the trip?

Life is busy, do you make time to be present?

Life is busy, do you make time to be present?

These days, our lives are really busy. Between work, family, and friends, there are so many demands placed on us it can feel like we’re being pulled in a hundred different directions all at once. With so many things to think about our heads can get stuck in the past or the future while life passes us by.

We rarely focus on the present.

From the moment you wake in the morning, you spend most of your time focusing on the future –

What do I need to get done today? I can’t forget to email Mark about that presentation next week. What will we have for dinner tonight? Do we need milk?

Or the past –

I can’t believe Grant undermined me again in yesterday’s meeting. I know he wants a promotion but I can’t believe how willing he is to throw us all under the bus to get it. And my boss! Urgh. I can’t believe he left at 4:30pm again yesterday but made a point of me being 5-minutes late back from lunch!

Any of this sound familiar?

Be Present: Learn To Stop And Smell The Roses

Of course, thinking about the future is helpful to an extent because it allows us to plan and organize. Likewise, thinking about the past is helpful because it can help us reflect and learn from our past experiences. But when we get too caught up in the past or the future, we end up missing out on living in (and enjoying) the present.

So what can we do to bring ourselves back to the present? It starts with being mindful. The first step is to actually recognize that your mind has wandered back into the past or forwards into the future. Once you’ve caught yourself, make a conscious effort to bring your attention back to what you are doing.

Set aside a task each day where you aim to ‘live in the moment’. Here are some examples – but you can really do anything mindfully.

Mindful Eating

Sit down at the table and eat a meal without engaging in any other activities, so no TV, books, music, or talking. Eat paying full attention to how the food looks, how it smells, tastes, and feels in your mouth. What do you notice? Are you more aware of how the food tastes? Of how full you are?

Mindful Showering

The shower is a common place for our mind to wander. Pay close attention to the feeling of the water on your skin and the sound sit makes as it hits the bottom of the shower, the temperature of the water, and the smells of your shampoo, conditioner, and soaps. Each time your mind wanders away to focus on things you need to do later today or things that have already happened over the course of the day, let go of the distractions and use your senses to ground you in the present.

Mindful Walking

Pay attention to the feel of the ground under your feet, your breathing, the feeling of your muscles in your body working, the sensation of temperature and wind on your skin. Let all other thoughts go, and focus only on your walking.

Emma Boles is a Clinical Psychologist Registrar who enjoys working with children, young people, families, and adults, and specialises in anxiety, depression, stress, self-esteem, perfectionism, and other life issues.