Being present has many advantages: We can fully experience the world around us, we can spend time with the people we care about, and we make better decisions about how we want to live our lives.
5 Benefits of Being in the Present Moment
You get to live in the present moment. You don’t miss out on anything. When you’re present, you can feel what’s happening at the moment – good or bad – and know exactly what’s happening around you.
You Feel More Connected to the People Around You
When you focus on the now instead of worrying about what happened yesterday or what might happen tomorrow, you can connect with others on a deeper level – which can lead to stronger relationships and better communication skills overall.
You’ve More Control Over Your Thoughts and Actions
When you’re thinking about something that happened earlier in the day or planning the future, it’s hard to be fully present in the moment. If you’re thinking about what you need to do next, it’s even harder. Being present means that your thoughts are on what’s happening right now, not on things that happened earlier or might happen in the future. Being present also means it’s easier to act when you need to – because there’s always a better time than now!
You’re More Likely to Make Better Decisions
When you focus on the here and now instead of worrying about what might happen later, you’re more likely to make decisions based on logic rather than emotion or fear-based thinking (which usually leads to poor decisions).
You Enjoy Life to the Fullest Because There Are Fewer Distractions Between You and Everything Else Around You
Being present means engaging in what’s happening in that present moment and enjoying it to the fullest because there’s no one else doing anything else at that moment either!
The Monkey Mind and the Struggle to Be in the Present Moment
Monkey Mind is the term for the constant stream of thoughts, images, and challenging emotions that run through our heads. When we’re in the present moment, we’re effective. But most of us spend too much time thinking about what happened in the past or what might happen in the future.
For more than half of the day our thoughts and mind wander. You can see for yourself by taking this simple test: close your eyes for 5 minutes and try not to think about anything. I bet within a few seconds you’ll already be thinking about something (unless you already have experience meditating).
The Past Is Gone and the Future Hasn’t Yet Happened
The past and the future are just thoughts – not your present reality. What we think is “real life” is what we live in the present moment, every single day!
- We spend most of our time worrying about what might happen in the future: next week, next month, or next year. We worry about things that may never happen: a traffic accident, a terminal illness, retirement at 65 or 70.
- We think about how we’ve been treated badly by someone who’s no idea we’re mad at them – and if they knew, they wouldn’t care anyway because they don’t know us enough to care.
- We think about what someone else might say or do in response to something we did or said months ago, and wonder how he or she’ll react when they find out about it – when in fact that person may or may not know what happened, since it was months ago! And even if he or she were to find out now or in a near future.
If we learn to be mindful of what’s happening right now, we can break out of this pattern by putting our energy into what’s happening right now instead of dwelling on things that may never go away.
Living in the Present Moment
Living with mindfulness means experiencing life as it happens. Being mindful of what’s happening around you, rather than dwelling on the past or worrying about the future, has many benefits.
However, it’s not just about becoming more aware. When we live in the present moment, time seems to slow down and our experiences become richer.
When we experience each moment as it comes, we open ourselves up to new possibilities and opportunities that we might have missed if we hadn’t been paying attention to our surroundings in the moment.
Being able to focus on what’s happening right now, rather than getting lost in thoughts about what’s happened or could happen in the future, can help us make better decisions and lower anxiety levels by allowing us to better control our negative and positive emotions – positive thoughts lead us to more productive outcomes, while negative emotions can lead us to destructive behavior if we let them run wild!
We can train ourselves to be mindful by setting aside time each day for meditation or even spiritual enlightenment. Mindfulness also means pausing before you react emotionally (“Wait a minute, I want to say something…”) and taking a deep breath when you feel stressed or overwhelmed. These practices help you get in touch with yourself – both physically and mentally – so that negative thoughts don’t take over as often!
It’s easy to feel overwhelmed by the never-ending barrage of information and stimuli that constantly hit you. The good news is that mindfulness practices can help you take control of your present moment and reduce the impact of these distractions.
The Goal of Mindfulness Is to Bring Awareness to the Present Moment
When you practice mindfulness, you notice your thoughts, feelings, physical sensations, and your surroundings without judging them as good or bad. You simply notice what’s happening without engaging in a conversation with yourself about how something should be different than it’s (or vice versa).
Mindfulness Offers Many Benefits to People Who Practice It Regularly
Mindfulness offers many benefits to people – including lower stress levels and a better ability to focus on the tasks at hand – but there are certain things that aren’t part of a typical mindfulness course: Meditation techniques like sitting cross-legged on a cushion in silence while focusing on just one thing (which can cause you to become very anxious); long retreats where we go somewhere in nature so we don’t have access to our phones or email inboxes; avoiding social media altogether because we think it’ll help us relax faster when we get back home
Learning to Meditate
There are many different types of meditation, but the most popular is mindfulness meditation. Mindfulness can help you be present and focus your attention on things that are important to you.
Mindfulness isn’t just a practice for monks in monasteries, but something that anyone can do, no matter where they’re or what their religious beliefs are. You don’t need any special equipment or a specific outfit either.
There are many different ways to get started with mindfulness: Some people prefer guided audio recordings, while others may want to read books on the topic or try an app that offers on-demand guided meditations. You can even try one of the many online courses offered in this area if you look around enough!
Going on a Retreat
I’ve been going on retreats for years, and I’ve to say that next to traveling, it’s one of the best things I’ve ever done.
Here are 10 reasons why I think it’s worth it:
- Learning to be more mindful (e.g.: mindful eating, practicing gratitude, improving awareness, and living in the current moment).
- Learning to meditate (remove every distraction that blocks us to move forward, learn to deal with challenging emotions).
- Recharging the batteries – imagine living every day for a week without feeling the pressure of the outside world!
- Reset the clock – most retreats require getting up at 4 or 5 in the morning, or at least at sunrise, just the thought of this can feel like a bad thing at first when it comes to taking a break. But believe me, all I end up hearing from everyone I’ve met on retreats is that it’s a good thing!
- Be better organized – Retreats are usually structured with a program and workshops. Whether you’re feeling energized or tired, the way they’re usually structured, including healthy food (usually vegan or vegetarian), you’ll likely leave with the feeling of a renewed energy.
- Meeting like-minded people – although that won’t be everyone because people come from all walks of life
- You’re more focused and action-oriented. You get more done because you don’t waste time with every single distraction around you (especially cell phone notifications, because there’s usually no cell phone use at retreats). This can also help improve sleep quality and productivity throughout your everyday life.
- You have the opportunity to reflect on your life goals and make sure they still align with your life goals (or change them if they don’t).
- Be inspired by other people’s stories and perspectives on life – and realize that no one has it all figured out.
- Reduce stress and improve mental wellness – some people even say they’ve found true happiness.
How to Choose the Best Retreat
Most people who go on a retreat aren’t sure what to expect. Here are some questions to consider before you choose a retreat location:
- For how long do I want to go?
- What kind of retreat do I want to do?
- Do I want something gentle and relaxing or something more intense?
- Do I want it to be in nature, in the city, or somewhere else? What’s the atmosphere like?
- Does the place suit me and my needs at the moment?
- Have friends already had good experiences at this place? Read reviews and blogs! Ask them if they’d recommend the place.
- What’re the benefits of doing this type of training in this environment (i.e., how will it help me)?
Asking Yourself if You’re Ready Before You Go on a Retreat Is Very Important
Before you go on a retreat, ask yourself if you’re ready to be present. Are you ready for it? Think about your readiness and consider the following questions.
- Do I have enough time for this retreat?
- Do I have the money necessary to make this retreat?
- Do I have positive feelings about doing this?
- Will I devote myself fully to learning with an open heart and mind?
- Should I choose a 24/7 silence retreat or a retreat where I can interact with others?
Returning From a Retreat
Our mindfulness practice is about being aware of each thing that’s happening in each moment. While a retreat is an ideal setting for this practice, it can also be challenging when you’re away from home and family.
However, if you focus on what’s happening right now – instead of worrying about what might happen or dwelling on the past – you’ll find that your mind is clearer than ever!
Here are some tips on how to focus on the present moment:
Don’t Get Caught Up in Distractions
This may mean not being engrossed in social media or constantly looking at your phone. When we’re mindful of our surroundings, it’s easier to notice when we’re distracted by something else (like notifications).
When something catches our attention, we gently direct ourselves back to where we were focused: For example, if I’m looking out the window while doing another thing, like writing this blog post, and my mind wanders off thinking about a past event or a future plan… Then I wouldn’t be able to write a consistent text because my mind wouldn’t pay close attention to the text I’m writing.
Avoid Negative Thoughts Whenever Possible
Don’t give them any space at all! Thoughts may arise naturally during meditation. If that’s the case, just acknowledge them as quickly as possible and move on without adding any extra baggage (e.g., “Ah yes! The world is going to end tomorrow!” → “That thought is over now.”).
Remember that a negative thought isn’t necessarily bad, because it will come back eventually anyway, so there’s no need to get upset about it, everything happens for a reason and perhaps it’s a sign that you need to work on a specific issue that needs solving now or in a near future.
Practice Mindfulness and Meditation in Everyday Life
Mindfulness is a life skill you can practice in your daily life, and it’s not about stopping your thoughts. When we practice mindfulness, we simply observe our breath, thoughts, and feelings without judging or criticizing.
You Can Practice Mindfulness Anywhere – as Little or as Long as You Want!
Some people meditate for 20 minutes before work every day; others prefer to take a five-minute break at their desk every hour; still others find that mindfulness practices during the day help them stay present in the current moment when they feel overwhelmed by stress.
You can also set reminders on your phone to remind you every hour. And if you have trouble focusing on what’s going on around you for more than five seconds (which happens to me a lot), I recommend downloading an app like Plum Village that offers guided meditations that teach you how to focus on your breath while distracting yourself from your surroundings, or thoughts about your past or your future.
Learn From the Best
You can spend your entire life learning from great teachers, so here are a few to get you started.
Thich Nhat Hanh, the Dalai Lama, Eckhart Tolle, and Jon Kabat Zinn are just a few of the world’s most respected spiritual leaders who’ve made mindfulness an important part of their teachings.