Do you often find yourself drifting off during conversation? Or maybe you can't remember what you did yesterday or even an hour ago? With all the demands of life it can be easy to lose track of your present. Beverley from Meaningful Minds Psychologists discusses how to go about being more present and aware.
All too often you may find your thoughts being drawn to the past or future. These thoughts may be riddled with judgements and comparisons which may be accompanied by a range of feelings; some described as positive and some negative. At other times, you may find that your mind wonders to matters of the day ahead or events which have already occurred. You struggle to just be in the here and now. Think about it – how often are you fully present in a situation? How often does your partner/children/friends speak to you but you don’t remember what was said or asked and you answer “yes/no” out of guilt?
Now you may ask “why do we need to be present? Comparing the past or looking to the future helps to motivate and change us for the better.” The reason for this is that when you are “living” in the past or future, you are comparing the present with what “should” be happening which likely results in you judging situations, people and yourself. Such judgements make it difficult for you to be yourself and be comfortable with whom you are and where you currently are in your life. They make it difficult for you to listen to yourself and make decisions that are right for you. These judgements may result in you trying to change yourself or others.
Being present means that you are aware of your surroundings and what is happening. It places you in control of your decisions and choices at that moment. It may make you feel safer in a situation and enable you to respond to events in a more controlled manner.
Here are some benefits of being in the present:
You’re more focused thus able to perform better under pressure.
Your mind is present therefore you are able to listen and remember more effectively.
You are likely to be more tolerant and patient when faced with difficult situations.
There are physical health benefits.
You are able to enjoy life’s moments more and not let them pass by
One way to become more mindful of the present is through your five senses. Below is a quick exercise that can be done anywhere – in your kitchen, in the car or as you are walking around today. The aim is to experience your surroundings through your senses thus bringing you into the present.
Name 5 things that you can see – look at the grain and kinks in the table; the sun’s rays through the glass
Name 5 things that you can feel – feel the way your chair feels underneath you; the way your shirt feels against your skin
Name 5 things that you can hear – the sound of birds; the sound of someone typing
Name 5 things that you can smell – the smell of your perfume; your fruit
Name 5 thing that you can taste – the taste of your toothpaste; your coffee
You may not be able to name 5 things – that’s all right. Name as many as you are able to at that moment.
Being present often enables you to look at things differently and change your perspective. Speaking to someone who you trust and feel safe with can often help with this process. If you find it difficult to be present and in the here-and-now, we at Meaningful Minds Psychologists, are ready and willing to be of assistance.