When I was a child, one of the things I would do with my mom was sit outside gazing at the clouds. As we laid on our backs, we would point at individual clouds and shout out which animal they looked like, or wait to see what shape or creature they would eventually form into. Those were moments I always cherished as we just laughed about how our imaginations were being led by the canvas of art taking place high in the sky.
As an adult now, those childhood memories make me reflect on how there wasn’t a worry in the world that would take me away from bonding with my mom or from being present to the movement of life through the beautiful clouds.
Through the asana practice (i.e. physical poses) of yoga, one knows how beneficial it is to be present. We are being present on our mat by listening to our body and breath through every pose. Regardless of whether someone regularly practices the physical poses of yoga or not, we all go through motions of life that can prevent us from being content with living in the present. We may be worrying about our past, such as things we regret doing or not doing. Or, perhaps fearful or unsure about our future, or even the inability of not feeling in control of our destiny.
When we let our minds get sucked in by a blame or fear-based mentality, we are causing more harm than good in our lives. How can we accept to be okay with living in the present moment? How can we create more lightness in our lives rather than feel the weight of the world that slowly funnels into anxiety or depression?
As human beings, it’s completely natural to experience immense feelings caused by the highs and lows of life. Though, with an attentive mindset, we can consciously create some balance in our lives to feel more lightness by living in the present. Not worrying about yesterday or tomorrow, but rather finding comfort and appreciation with just being.
If you’re interested in living more in the present, here are some suggestions that you can consider incorporating:
- Attitude of Gratitude: After you wake up, say 3-5 things that you’re grateful for in that very present moment. This can also be done throughout the day too. Some mornings I’m too groggy to get my mind straight, but I quickly remember when walking my dog to practice my “attitude of gratitude”. There is research that the more we practice gratitude, the more content we are with our lives and in understanding the situations that are happening.
- Feed Your Soul with Good Content: Instead of rushing to check your email or social media accounts first thing in the morning or even constantly throughout the day, perhaps instead Google a quote or article that can help pull you away from the busyness of life even if it’s just for a minute. Take this as a moment of self-care, and to also expand your knowledge and perspective on life.
- Meditate: Click here for tips from a previous blog post.
- Healing Vibrations of Music: Play one of your favorite songs and sing or dance to it…let loose! The happiness you will create instantaneously by doing this can help alleviate any stressors or harmful thoughts that might be negatively consuming you at that moment. Music can be very healing and therapeutic.
- Make Time for Loved Ones: Sometimes we may forget how precious and short life can be. Instead of being consumed by your “to do” list, consider instead taking a break in order to FaceTime or call (yes – call – not text!) someone who you’ve been meaning to connect with if you can’t meet in-person. Give yourself the opportunity to talk about what’s happening in both of your lives presently, both the good and the bad. Tell them how much you appreciate them. Talk about funny things or whatever it might be! Allow yourself to experience genuine connections with those you care for, rather than sending a text that doesn’t fully allow for a deep conversation. We soon realize, whether through personal experiences or from others, that the people and connections in our lives are more important than the mundane things that in the end won’t hold much importance after we leave this earth.
Some more food for thought…
- What childhood memories do you have that created a feeling of being present? Can you incorporate these memories or activities within your day, week or month?
- Is there any artwork, pictures, or quotes that you can have in your house or office space to help remind yourself about the importance of living in the present moment?
“Contentment, santosa, the second niyama, manifests as disinterest in accumulating more than one’s immediate needs of life…True happiness comes from contentment with whatever one has, not with thinking that one will be happy when one gets all that one desires.”
Edwin F. Bryant, The Yoga Sutras of Patañjali
संतोषाद् अनुत्तभ: स्सुखलाभ: ॥ ४२ ॥
II.42 santosad anuttamah sukhalabhah
(Sanskrit translation to English)
From contentment, the highest happiness is attained.