By. Danielle Husband
A couple of weeks ago, I was out on a walk with my boyfriend, dumping my anxieties on him. Pacing past blooming flowers, curious yard cats, and historic homes caught in the glow of magic hour, I was completely oblivious to the feast that the moment had to offer. As I neared the brink of completely unraveling, a thought popped into my mind: just be in the moment.
I’d like to say that I snapped out of my anxiety and dove right into the moment. In a perfect world, I’d forget my cares, enjoy the magic of nature in bloom, and build a memory with my boyfriend. Well, that sort of happened — somewhat.
Instead of letting myself be in the moment, I interrupted my own ramblings. With a sigh, I grumbled, “I guess I should be paying more attention to what we’re doing right now and be mindful or whatever.”
My boyfriend laughed and agreed with me. However, he also pointed out that it didn’t make sense to be hard on myself. Beating myself up for not being mindful wouldn’t make me more mindful. In fact, it’d do just the opposite.
Since I learned how mindfulness can improve my life, I’ve made it my goal to be mindful every day. However, some days it’s a real struggle. The pressures of everyday life coupled with generalized anxiety pull me in all directions, and sometimes the furthest thing from my mind is the here and now.
On days when I’m struggling, I try to redirect my thoughts to the here and now with a few easy shifts in my thinking. While some days are harder than others, I know that I can seize at least a few moments of peace if I try to be mindful.
If you find yourself struggling to be mindful, here’s how I recommend shifting your thoughts back to the here and now:
Remind yourself that your life happens in the now.
The first step to being in the moment is silencing your brain chatter about the past and future. Whether you’re ruminating over past mistakes or planning your future, you’re stealing the moments that you have right now. Sometimes you need a reminder that this is your life — right here this second.
Sure, planning for the future is important, but it’s too easy to get caught up in what your life could/would/should be, causing you to miss out on what it is. Live life how you want to live it, and your future will fall into place.
Release your expectations for the moment.
No matter how you’re spending your time, it’s normal to have expectations. You might picture yourself taking an idyllic walk in the park, reading in your favorite chair at the coffee shop, or laughing over drinks with your best friend. Reality, on the other hand, is often a different animal. Don’t let your expectations prevent you from experiencing the reality of your moment. It may not be what you imagined, but it’s better because it’s real.
Engage your five senses.
Sensory details can quickly ground you in the moment, and they’re an easy way to shift your thoughts into the moment. After you start paying attention, try to go deeper into the moment by focusing on smaller details, such as patterns, imperfections, or layered smells.
- Smell the scents in the air.
- Observe tiny details, such as the shading on a flower’s petals, the pattern of the clouds, or the colors in the dish you’re about to eat.
- Feel the textures in your environment.
- Listen to the sounds around you.
- Stick out your tongue to taste the air.
Be in the moment.
Let yourself enjoy your life in the now, free of worries about the past or future. After all, this moment is all you truly have. Live it to the fullest!