The Present Moment
The reality is that the only time we every have is the present moment. Therefore if we are not mentally present in the NOW then we are wasting away our lives. We are missing the only time we have. If we spend our now thinking about the past or future or problems etc. then we are not here! We also cannot get anything done and get what we want out of life unless we can focus on the present. Every past moment was a now (now gone) and every future now depends on what you do in this now. Now is all that matters! How you turn up to now impacts the next now – ad infinitum. We all want to be happy but we keep chasing happiness in the future. This is because our mind gets distracted with negatives and has a problem being here in the present moment. Our minds have a tendency to hang onto negativity.
We need to be able to focus on doing one thing at a time, being in Flow. Flow is that wonderful sense of being present and totally focussed – everything else in life being excluded – totally focussed on the outcome and making intuitive decisions about what to do. According to Jim Fannin, mental performance coach to some of the world’s top athletes, the average person has 2-3,000 thoughts in one day. A sports champion however has 1,100 or 1,200 thoughts in one day. The champion thinks less and has eliminated 30-40% of their thoughts. Everything is in a flow state of mind avoiding thought into the past and assumption thinking into the future. Champions are fully focussed on what they are doing in the present moment.
Purposeful focus, developed through the regular practice of meditation and maintained through the regular checking-in to reality throughout the day, enables us do just what we need to do to achieve our objective for now.
One of the most well-known types of meditation is mindfulness meditation which is when you intentionally pay attention to whatever is here in the moment. Mindfulness meditation is a gym workout for the brain. Brain-imaging studies show that meditation sharpens attention and memory. Perhaps most importantly, it has been linked to increased happiness or life satisfaction and greater compassion. Meditation also helps in stress relief and helps people in chronic pain or suffering from depression. Simple body focused mindfulness can improve flexibility in the brains sensory attention system and we can learn how to regulate negative or repetitive thoughts.
I have meditated for about 10 minutes per day each morning for the past number of years. I also practice bringing myself back into the present moment throughout my day. As a result of my doing these exercises I have found that I am much more present and focussed than I used to be. I have observed that I can now, for the most part, follow conversations more closely and listen more intently to what people are saying. I can sit in a meeting and keep focussed on what is being said. Before I started meditating I tended to be distracted by my own internal thoughts – a constant chatter from my inner critic. I find that I am now able to observe my thoughts and am less controlled by them. I am also able to focus my attention on whatever I am working on for longer with much less distracting thoughts than I used to have.
Body Scan Mindfulness
This is an example of an exercise to practice being more mindful. For this particular exercise schedule 5 – 10 minutes in the morning or whenever you can relax and are not likely to be disturbed. Just allow yourself to pay attention to the sensations in your body. If, while doing this exercise, thoughts intrude, that is okay – just notice the thoughts, notice yourself noticing the thoughts and gently guide your awareness back to your body. This mental exercise is available as a free mp3 audio to listen on your computer or download. Please listen to the audio and allow yourself to be guided through the exercise. To download please click the link below and then right click and ‘Save video as…’ to download the mp3 file.