There are a lot of amazing benefits to being more present and mindful, but one of my favorites is this: you’re not missing the beauty and joy of the present moment.
Being present also helps you to see when you are feeling fear or resistance, uncertainty or the urge to procrastinate, anger or resentment, and then to work with those difficulties mindfully.
That’s all great, but how do you remember to practice being present? It’s so easy to get caught up in our thoughts and distractions, and forget to practice.
The honest truth is that no one is perfect at this. Me least of all. It’s a continual learning process, not something you figure out and then you’re good. It’s messy and beautiful.
So with that in mind, here are some practical ways to practice:
A Small Regular Practice
Form the simple habit of meditating for just two minutes a day (to start with). After you wake up, simply sit comfortably and try to focus on your breath for two minutes. When (not if) your mind wanders, just notice it and label it “thinking.” And gently return to the breath, without harshness. Set a timer, and when the timer goes off, you’re done! If you feel like expanding it by a minute every week or so, feel free to do so, but you don’t have to expand. The benefit of this regular practice is that you learn skills you can take and practice in other parts of your day.
Work with Others
Having a regular group or partner to meditate with is helpful. You support each other continuing to practice, and can talk about struggles and things you’re learning. If you don’t have a practice group in your area, you could find people online to talk to regularly about practicing.
Have Mindfulness Bells
You could have a chime regularly sound off on your phone or computer (numerous apps do this) to remind you to pause and be mindful of what’s going on right now. I’ve also found it useful to see other things as mindfulness bells: seeing my child’s face, a traffic light, hearing an alert from an appliance or the computer. Each of these can be a reminder to be present when I notice them.