Being present, in the here and now
But do I have enough time to do this?
Time – How it seems to rush past quicker than a jet trail or lag and hang around just teasing and annoying us. My plan in this blog was to talk about being present, living for now, today and focusing on this moment.
When I started to do some research, I realised 2 things. That the activities that help us to focus more on the here and now, the present, also need us to sacrifice some time. We can’t just jot down a to do list and think we are sorted, or take 1 deep breath and go yep, I’m in the now. I also found that I wasn’t sure I had enough time to do this. How mad is that?
So, I set out on a journey to carve out some ‘me’ time to see if I could live more in the present and not be rushing or worrying about the past or the future.
I signed up to do a 30-day yoga challenge with Adriene, https://yogawithadriene.com/breath-a-30-day-yoga-journey/ I have used her sessions on and off for years and love them. I generally fit my yoga practice around everyone else, so as not to disturb or put anyone else out. Today I decided to do my day 11, 21 minutes of yoga at 07.20am. My kids, if you can still call them that are 16, still in bed, 22, getting ready for work, and 25 and doesn’t live at home. Yes, there’s also my husband and we have a dog and a puppy…. But are they my responsibility all the time or do I just put myself in that space?
So, this morning I was brave, and I told myself you’re going to do this yoga now and then continue with your day and if anyone needs you, they know where you are. I did the yoga; I wasn’t missed, and I feel virtuous and slightly more aligned because I carved out that 21 minutes. There was a hint of guilt in the back of my head and I did think “oh, I must sort the laundry”, “I need to read that book for work”, “better get some chicken out for dinner” but my mind then quickly went back to my yoga practice, the ebb and flow of my breath and the creaking of my body.
What I have learnt over the past 10 months and especially during this lockdown, is that I do seem to have time on my hand’s, but I don’t always use it efficiently or effectively. What I have done over this time is to compile my top tips for staying present and using time well.
Sue’s 5 top tips for staying present.
1. Make time for you – whether it’s a hot bath or shower at the end of the day, yoga, a run or reading your book it’s so important to carve out that time and make it precious. Just like you would for anyone else, you are so important, and you deserve to put yourself first for a change.
2. Journaling or Mindfulness – This depends on what you like to do, and I would recommend having a play with this. You might like to write reams and reams or be more like me and enjoy focusing on what you’re grateful for, how you can make today great and a positive affirmation for you each day. I use the 6 – minute diary - Mindfulness-Happiness-Productivity-Effective-Gratitude (I get mine from Amazon) and it works for me. Don’t be afraid to give something a go and if it doesn’t work, start something else.
3. Setting daily/ weekly goals – With setting up my new business I have had to become disciplined and I give myself 3 weekly tasks, which works well and keeps me focused. I have taken this skill and added it to my personal life. Each day or so I put down what I want to achieve that day and then, here’s the important part, the bit that takes some extra time – I imagine myself achieving those tasks, having taken the dog for a walk, how I will feel, what it will be like. Or baking that cake, getting dinner out, and what I will cook, how it will taste.
4. Exercise and our surroundings - As an add on to taking the dog for a walk or just heading outside for some exercise. This is another great way to stay grounded and focus on the here and now. Really being present, rather than it’s just another job or chore to be ticked off the list. Look at the trees, notice the birds, the sounds, and the scents around you. Enjoy the experience and breathe deeply as you go. Getting our bodies moving really does make us feel better. You can listen to a podcast or some soothing music while you amble about.
5. Smile, it’s all ok – If you have an off day, be kind to yourself. Smile, pat yourself on the back and be cool with where you are. Enjoy the time without any pressure or plan. You can put on your favourite music, dance, and sing to lift your spirits or lay back and let it wash over you. My go to dance song is ‘Mr. Brightside’ by the Killers at and my guilty Netflix pleasure is ‘Virgin River’ – unassuming and calming. I also love to read simple novels on my iPad, books by Holly Martin or Helen Pollard, all set in quaint villages with a tea shop and some county side frivolity. These are my ways of escaping and just being.
This isn’t me being all good and perfect, I get those days where nothing goes to plan, where I’m focused on something due to happen next week, next month etc. or mulling over what happened yesterday or last week. I also have a day here or there where I binge on Netflix or channel surf between home restoration programs, sorry one of my loves. When I’ve had my fill of being lazy/unfocused, I get back on my plan, usually with renewed energy and joy at having goals to achieve.
While doing my research for living in the present moment I found this great Zen story, which is told in the Ted Talk below, I have included the text of the story so you can read it and recognise the power within it. As with many old stories and fables the version in the Ted Talk is slightly different but leads to the same realisation.
A senior monk and a junior monk were traveling together. At one point, they came to a river with a strong current. As the monks were preparing to cross the river, they saw a very young and beautiful woman also attempting to cross. The young woman asked if they could help her cross to the other side.
The two monks glanced at one another because they had taken vows not to touch a woman.
Then, without a word, the older monk picked up the woman, carried her across the river, placed her gently on the other side, and carried on his journey.
The younger monk couldn’t believe what had just happened. After re-joining his companion, he was speechless, and an hour passed without a word between them.
Two more hours passed, then three, finally the younger monk couldn’t contain himself any longer, and blurted out “As monks, we are not permitted a woman, how could you then carry that woman on your shoulders?”
The older monk looked at him and replied, “Brother, I set her down on the other side of the river, why are you still carrying her?”
This story shows how we all at times hold onto negative thoughts or situations from the past that don’t serve us now. They take away our energy and power to live in the moment. When we hold onto old hurt and pain, we are in the end only limiting ourselves.
Here is the Ted Talk ‘Being Present in the Moment’ by David Gesk.
He explains how breathing is our anchor and how this automatic and simple, life affirming technique, is our superpower. It calms down us or rallies us to run. We have that power and it’s up to us to harness it. We can choose to take some time and be in control by listening to our breathing and connecting with our gentle in and out.
During the past 10 months I have learnt a lot about being in the moment, being present and having a focus. It’s something I will be working on my whole life and that’s ok. I am sure that it will ebb and flow as life often does.
I can see how beneficial it is for me to have some downtime and opportunities to breath, take stock and imagine the future that I desire. I am also learning to accept that taking time for me is ok and that the time I spend on me is full of lots of smaller moments and achievements.
Let me know your thoughts or tell me what you like to do to relax and be in the moments – firstname.lastname@example.org