Living in the moment
One of my favorite activities is to watch the sunset over the Intercoastal Waterway at Wrightsville Beach, NC. One day, I was feeling overwhelmed from a particularly exhausting day at work. My mind was racing and all I could focus on was the dread of returning to the stressful situation the next day. On autopilot, I drove to Wrightsville Beach, parked my car, and made my way to my favorite spot. I felt the cool air on my face and felt the sand slip through my fingers. A sweeping realization came over me. In that moment, the exhaustion and stress washed away. I was viewing a gorgeous painting in the sky and feeling nature all around me. That is the moment I realized my most joyful moments were when I was fully immersed the present moment. My stressors had not changed, but my focus on the temperature of the air, the texture of the sand, and the myriad of colors painted on the sky completely shifted my emotions. It was then that I grasped mindfulness and vowed to cultivate it in my daily life. Below are small ways to cultivate mindfulness and live in the present moment.
Cultivating mindfulness in daily life
- Use your five senses- Stop what you’re doing and take notice of what you are hearing, tasting, touching, smelling, and tasting in that very moment. Don’t make it too complicated, just notice. This is particularly effective for capturing positive memories. I will forever remember the feeling of my husband’s suit on my cheek as we danced our first dance at our wedding. By utilizing mindfulness, I created a detailed joyful memory that I can access any time it is needed to lift my spirits.
- Take a mindful walk- When going for a walk, notice the pressure on your feet. How is your weight distributed? Notice the impact of the heel on the ground, the rock from the heel to the ball of your foot, and the way your toes peel up as you shift your weight.
- Apply a drop of essential oils to your inner wrist- Just one drop will do. Breath the scent in fully and deeply, allowing your diaphragm to expand and thoughts to slow. Bonus if you choose a scent that is calming for you.
- Observe all sensations in bed- I am a person who has racing thoughts when my head hits the pillow. It used to be a distraction for me to fall asleep. Now I focus my attention on the sensations I am feeling in my bed. Keep a running dialogue in your head about how comfortable the bed is. For example, “The pillow is soft and I can feel the dense down feathers on my cheek. My sheets are cool and comfortable.”
- Play categories- When stressed; try to calm your mind by getting immersed in the present moment. Choose a category of what you’re seeing to focus on the present moment. For example, if you are driving try counting the number of red cars you see. The key here is to focus on an item or sensation that is in the present moment.