10 Simple tips to Intentionally Focus Your Mind on the Present Moment
How often do you find you are experiencing life…. in your head?
Do you find yourself stuck thinking about your past, worrying about mistakes, or rehearsing in your mind past hurts?
Or do you find yourself feeling stressed or anxious, thinking about the future of your children and what might unfold?
When we are thinking about the past or future, it can often rob us of the only thing that we truly have, the present.
In this post, I will share about what it means to stay in the present moment and how it would benefit you. I will also share 10 simple tips on how to stay in the present moment, and how to bring your awareness back when you notice you’ve drifted off. With practice you can learn how to relax and enjoy the present moment.
What Does it Mean to Stay in the Present Moment?
Staying in the present moment (or living mindfully) means to let go of the past and any worries or fears for the future. It means being focused on the ‘here and now,’ conscious of the very moment.
What are the Benefits of Living in the Present Moment?
As you are more present in your interactions with others you will build deeper and more meaningful relationships with your family and friends.
Release stress by letting go of the regrets of the past and worries for the future.
Learning how to stay in the present moment and bringing yourself back when your mind wanders will increase your productivity to work towards your goals. Try this when you are spending quality time with the kids, reading a book, or checking your email.
Practicing mindful eating can help you in a number of ways. You can learn to pace yourself and eat slowly, while savoring every bite. Staying mindful when eating will also help you be more aware when you are feeling full so you don’t overeat. Because our mind can only focus on one thing at a time, keep yourself free from distractions as you tune in to your body’s cues of when you feel full.
There is fulfillment in living a full and present life and being happy with what you have right now even in this very moment. What’s the point of reliving old memories or worrying what may come of the future? You can be building new memories in the here and now. However, that isn’t going to happen if you are stuck in your head.
How to Stay in the Present Moment: Why is it so Hard?
It can be difficult to stay in the present moment as there are so many distractions in our environment, and in our minds. Learning to live more fully in the present moment is an exercise. Our brains love patterns whether they are healthy for us or unhealthy such as overthinking. It will resist any new pattern and cling to the old ways of thinking. So, if you typically allow your mind to wander, that is what your brain will want to do. Until you train it to do something different.
With practices, such as the ones I will share with you in a second, you can train your mind to let go of everything to focus on the present moment. The more you practice, the more well trained your mind will be to paying attention to what’s happening around you.
I must warn you, that this isn’t just something you practice and then just get to have forever. Just like building a muscle, if you don’t continue to exercise, you will lose what you worked so hard to build. So, carve out some times during the day where you can intentionally practice staying in the present moment.
10 Simple Tips on How to Stay in the Present Moment
1. Experience Emotion
When experiencing a negative emotion, do you allow yourself to sit with your emotions? Or do you try to escape through stress eating, scrolling social media or some other form of distraction? By avoiding the feeling, we actually set ourselves up for experiencing it more often.
Ask yourself: ‘What am I feeling in this moment?’ Try it now. Focusing on the sensations of your body. Feel the air on your skin. Is it warm or cool? Feel where your body presses against the chair or your feet meet the ground. This simple exercise can bring your focus back to stay in the present moment and break the cycle of ongoing thoughts.
Another way to stay in the present moment is to bring attention to your breath. Notice how your chest or belly rises and falls with each breath. Feel the air as it leaves and tickles your nostrils. Focusing on your breath is an easy and convenient way to practice staying in the present moment. Try this guided mindful breathing practice with your children.
4. Break the routine
Try driving a different way home than your usual route. Shop at a different grocery store this week. If you are used to driving with the music on, turn it off. By breaking habitual routines often running on autopilot, you will be more inclined to notice your surroundings and stay in the present moment.
5. Plan the Day Ahead
Do you find yourself constantly thinking about what to do next? Try planning the day ahead of time so you have a schedule to refer to and can free your mind for living in the now.
6. Notice the little things
A great way to be present is to hone in on the little things that surround you in the moment. Like the steam rising from your hot coffee, or how your child’s hair moves ever so slightly by the gentle breeze, or the ant strolling by on the sidewalk.
Using a guided meditation app like the Calm app is a great way to practice living in the present moment. You are called to clear your mind and focus and you are gently reminded throughout the meditation to come back to the present moment if your mind has wandered. If you are just getting started on this you will be amazed on just how often you can get distracted. Don’t worry, this is normal, especially when you are just starting.
8. Active Listening
One of the most important times to practice mindfulness is the time you spend with others. You know when you are talking to someone and you can see a sign of disengagement. Maybe their eyes begin to wander or you say something surprising and they display no sign of reaction. Sometimes others derail the conversation with a random thought leaving you feeling frustrated and unheard. You know you don’t like it, but we have all done it. Have you dozed out when your child is talking to you?
By practicing active listening, you can stay present in the conversation. You can focus on what your child is saying and not allow your mind to wander. You can focus on their body language, and well as be attentive to your own. By being an active listener, they can feel heard and supported. It can strengthen your relationship with them.
9. Doing chores
You heard me right! It’s easy to get in the habit of getting lost in thought when performing mindless tasks like folding laundry, vacuuming or doing the dishes. However, these are great opportunities to give your mind an intentional break. Simply bring your mind to the senses. Feel the sensations as you touch the different textures of each piece of clothing. Take in the smell of the dishwashing soap and observe how the light shines on the bubbles. Concentrate on the vibrations running up your arm as you vacuum. Take it all in like a child in awe like wonder.
10. Long Hugs
Give your spouse or child a good long hug. A long hug can help you both slow down and stay in the present moment together. Check out this post for a mindful snuggle meditation you can do with your child.
Wrapping up: Tips on How to Stay in the Present Moment for Busy Moms
If you often find yourself daydreaming, living in the past, or thinking about your future, practice staying in the present moment. Don’t let life pass you by without you playing an active role in it. There are many benefits to living in the present moment such as improving your relationships, reducing stress, increased productivity, eating less and living a more fulfilled life! It can be difficult staying in the present moment, but with practice you will get better. Keep it up so you don’t resort to living life on autopilot and wondering where did the time go.