We live in an age of constant distractions where it now takes effort to be present.
I’m currently sitting in a cafe as I write this post. Out of all the people who are sitting, 90% of people are on their phones and only 2 people are reading something physical. I wonder what percentage of people are present. I know some people are reading on their tablet, but the biggest questions for me is this— where did the real-life conversations go? How can we become present and focus on what is immediately around us? How can we remember to take care of our mind and body?
Recently, Madison (Madi) and I have been trying out ten-minute meditations every morning. The scientific benefits of meditation have been studied and there are a fair amount of papers correlating meditation with better mental health, but I think everyone starts because they want to be much more present in the activities they do and focus on enjoying their life. Here are a couple things that I have tried that have helped me with my presence throughout my day:
It can be running and listening to the same song over and over, or reading a text out loud or singing a chant or a traditional form that I practice by sitting and observing my own body.
In any shape or form, it’s one where the mind loses all of its distraction and focuses on the surroundings and the sensations around you. If you meditate for around 10 minutes a day (Personally, I’d love to do an hour meditation once a week, too, if possible) it clears up what is important to your life and helps you become present. Although the beginning may be hard as your mind wanders all over the place, once the feeling of meditation catches on, then there is nothing from stopping you from doing well afterward.
2.) Deep Breaths
This is a practice that helps when your mind gets distracted throughout the day. Sometimes I set alarms on my phone to go off during random parts of the day to remind me to take some deep breaths. The best thing when starting off is counting to 10 in your head as you inhale, hold your breath for 4 seconds, and then exhaling for 10 seconds. Repeat this 4 times per practice and try doing it 3 times a day. Even when you feel stressed, it will help to do this to cool your head, bring you from your emotional state to a rational present state before making any decisions. This helps with keeping your emotions at bay when making important decisions and not letting fear or anxiety creep up as you think.
Listening doesn’t mean hearing what other people have to say. Anyone with functioning ears can hear— on the other hand, few people can listen. During conversations, don’t think to anticipate what other people are going to say, but remain present and try to understand what they are saying instead. There’s a reason you can understand more from a conversation through intonation than you can through a script. Pretty soon I’ll make another blog post on the in depths of listening, but the main thing to consider when practicing listening is to understand the underlying message that the other person is trying to convey. If you can answer yes to Do I have a lot of questions about what they just stated? then there is a high possibility that you are practicing active listening.
My hope is that this will help with decluttering your mind and grounding you into the present, which is the essence of a true minimalist living. There is no instant gratification, but the effects will outlast anything if you practice these every single day. If you have any other tips you would like to share, feel free to share in the comments below!