Staying Present

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Staying present is a difficult discipline for even the most disciplined. Many encourage a daily practice of mindful meditation to keep us grounded in the present moment. Still, how often do we find ourselves in some other mindless dimension throughout all other parts of the day? It is easy to do! I was doing it right before I started writing this post, which in turn, prompted me to become present in the writing of this post. (Ha.)

We can find ourselves thinking about the strangest things in the strangest moments. For example, I was washing my hands at the sink the other day and questioned, “Why don’t we have upper and lower case numbers? Would we have use for upper and lower case numbers even if we did?” Thought provoking stuff, right? I mean, what exactly in that moment would have prompted such a thought…. Absolutely nothing. This is a prime example of the wondering of the mind. I doubt so many of us are very in touch with the actual action of washing our hands. Do we consider the feel of the water on our skin? The rubbing of our hands together? Unless the water is scorching hot or freezing cold, this is generally a mindless task.

Although I am by no means an expert, probably not even an intermediate-level present-stayer, there are certain practices I try to do throughout the day to remind me of the present moment. One of these practices is the simple, attention to one’s own breath. For me, I enjoy this practice because it is a short and easy way task, listening to a few deep breaths lasting for maybe less than a minute. Here, I am only listening to my breath, not the office chatter around me or thinking about what I am going to eat for dinner tonight. I am only with myself. Next, at work I keep a coin in my pocket, feeling for it when I find myself getting anxious about a task or worrying about something else that I anticipate will soon be asked of me. I then reach into my pocket to find my solace and stops with its touch. Finally, writing. Writing in my journal or writing this very post about a specific thought or idea forces me to focus on just that task at hand. The moment. I encourage the practice of journaling for this very reason.

Find whatever works for you to remind yourself of NOW. After all, as Marcus Aurelius has said, “The present moment is the only thing of which anyone can be deprived, at least if this is the only thing he has and he cannot lose what he has not got.”

 

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