The key to being fully present in the here and now is to do only one thing at a time-that is, unitask-and be aware of what you’re doing while you’re doing it. I have a few tricks that I wanted to share with you to help you stay present and be in the moment.
- Breathe easy. Merely observing your inhalations and exhalations is one of the most basic ways to bring your brain back to this instant. And you can do it anywhere and at any time. You don’t need to recite a mantra-just focus on the sensation of breathing. Feel how your chest rises and falls; hear what it sounds like when air enters and exits your nostrils. Are you breathing with your mouth? Does your abdomen move, too? Does your chest fill up all the way? It’s all good-you’re just observing. When I pay attention to my breath, it does tend to regulate to a nice, steady pace, which quiets my whole nervous system. Start by doing it for a minute or so and work up to longer sessions if you wish.
- Eat with intention. I used to look down and wonder who hoovered up all those chips while watching TV. I try not to eat mindlessly. I sometimes go for intentional eating with an easy-to-peel fruit such as a mandarin orange: I hold it in my palm and study the vibrant color and the skin’s texture. I also listen to the sound when the peel is broken. Sound strange? Well, I have news for you – it helps me to eat mindfully. I’ve learned to take a deep whiff of the citrusy scent and putting each segment on my tongue, feeling the bumpy surface and tasting the sweet tang. I’ve learned to turn away from disasters in my mind and turn my attention back to the orange. Try it. It works.
- Be present with your pet. I have two furry mindfulness teachers that curl up at my feet (and sometimes on my belly). I love to spend time with my pets, completely focused on them (and boy, do they love the attention). I run my fingers through their fur, stroke their velvety ears and listen to their breathing. Yes, you read that correctly.
- Switch hands. I like to load the dishwasher or open a door using my non-dominant hand. It gets me out of autopilot so I am automatically more mindful. Besides, it lets me experience a ho-hum activity in a new way.