Do you know how to live in the now?
Are you practicing becoming present in every moment of your life?
If not, are you ready to learn how?
In today’s fast-paced, busy, and hectic world, it’s common to see individuals who don’t live in the now. They are stressed out, full of anxiety, plagued with depression, and completely cut off from the present moment.
Maybe you’re one of them.
As I’ve focused my practice on helping people alleviate anxiety, reduce stress, and ease depression, one of the most common similarities I’ve seen in their mindsets is a tendency to be bogged down by the past and/or constantly worrying about the future.
When you’re constantly reliving or ruminating on past events (maybe things you regret or things you resent that happened to you), or you’re worrying about what might come into your future (things that could happen that might not be what you want), it keeps you feeling drained and out of touch with yourself in the current moment.
Being present is what keeps you connected and grounded into yourself and everything around you. And what it means to be present is to simply have your awareness rooted in the present moment. That means what you’re conscious of right now in your mind is always focusing on what is happening right NOW and right now and right now… and so on.
When we bring our awareness back to the present and release the past and future, this is where we find relief from our constant state of stress, anxiety, and unhappiness.
To get you started on this practice of becoming present, I’ve included 4 easy ways you can begin to live in the now, starting right NOW! 😉
Live in the Now | Technique #1.
Mindful Body Scan
When is the last time you checked in with how your body is feeling? For most of us, unfortunately, it’s been awhile.
One of the quickest and easiest ways you can train yourself to become present and live in the now is to practice an exercise called the “Mindful Body Scan.”
The practice is as simple as the (unimaginative) name suggests.
Start by getting into a comfortable position. Depending on where you are, this could be lying down on a bed or sofa, or even sitting comfortably in a chair.
When you get comfortable, close your eyes, and begin to notice how your body feels, starting with the very top of your head.
How does your scalp feel? Can you feel any tension there? Does it itch? Does it need a good scratch?
Continue to ask similar questions to yourself as you make your way through your body part from top of your head down to the tips of your toes.
For example, once you tune into how your head is feeling, what about your neck? Are you holding any tightness or tension there?
What about your throat? Does it feel tight/restricted? Or does it feel at ease?
How are your shoulders feeling right now?
Again, continue to scan your body. If you attention strays to the past or the future, that’s okay. This is normal. Gently and softly, release the thought or feeling and bring your attention back to your body and the present moment.
As you do so, you can even incorporate some deep breathing and send breath into the places in your body that might need some extra love.
This exercise can be as quick or as long and luxurious as you’d like it to be. This exercise is so powerful because it can pull you out of obsessing about past/future events and pull you back into the current moment. You always have your body and your breath!
I’ve had some clients benefit from just a few minutes of this practice a handful of times a day. Some clients like to do a full 30-minute body scan before they go to bed.
Whatever calls to you in terms of length, the key is to make sure you keep practicing the mindfulness exercises here and incorporating them into your day. The more you bring yourself back to the present moment, the easier it will start to become to stay there!
Live in the Now | Technique #2.
5 Senses Check In
This “5-Senses Check In” is one of my personal favorite tried and true methods for bringing my stress and anxiety down, especially when I’m out and about and need a quick calming moment.
It is a VERY simple exercise to do!
Close your eyes (or leaving them open is fine too) and take a deep, slow breath in. Make sure you expand your lungs and diaphragm all the way out.
Pause for a moment, and let out a big exhale (through your mouth, if it feels best).
Pause for another moment.
Now, return to do another full five breaths, but in each inhale/exhale cycle, focus on what you feel in each of your five senses.
For example, when you take your second breath in, what do you hear?
Do you hear birds singing? Traffic buzzing around you? A lawn mower going?
No need to judge anything, just be mindful of what you hear.
Then, do the same check in for each of your other senses. What do you feel to your touch? Can you taste anything? If your eyes are open, what do you see? Is anything triggering your sense of smell?
Going through this exercise helps reconnect you to your body and the present moment. This will help you to feel calmer and more peaceful in no time.
And if you have time, feel free to do a second or third round of this exercise! It’s a great way to regain your center and come back to the present moment and live in the now from anywhere.
Live in the Now | Technique #3
Nature Time + I Notice game
Ever gone out into nature with someone who is on their phone the entire time? Or maybe as you’ve gone hiking with a friend who can only talk about how worried they are about their upcoming this, that, or the other thing?
Whatever it may be, there are lots of distractions we can choose to focus on when we’re out in nature that take us away from being present in all the beauty, splendor, and healing our Mother Earth has to offer!
If you’ve been following me for awhile, are connected to me on Facebook or Instagram, or even know me personally, you know how much I LOVE mother nature! And you’ve probably heard me say hundreds of times how healing our Earth mother is, and how earthing and grounding are important for our healing journeys.
Well, surprise surprise! Getting out into nature can help you live in the now and become more present too.
So, let me introduce you to my favorite technique for becoming present while outdoors, called the I Notice game.
(Fun sidenote: I learned this game almost 9 years ago from a Shaman I met and it has stuck with me since and served me well!)
The rules are simple. When you’re out in nature and notice yourself ruminating or worrying about past or future events, start playing I Notice. All you have to do to is begin to notice ALL the things around you.
Use all your 5 senses as you play the game. Just keep noticing all that is around you, whatever it may be. Pay attention to the birds singing, the sound of water flowing, the feel of the breeze on your skin, the animals you see, the colors of the flowers and the leaves. Notice it all as you’re experiencing it!
Let me give you an example of what one of my games might look like. When I catch myself in the past or future, I might say:
“I notice that big, weird shaped rock up ahead. Now I notice that cute little lizard that just ran across the trail. I feel how warm the sun feels on my skin this morning. It feels like the air is a little stuffy today and there is a lot of pollen flying around. I see that dead, brown bush up ahead. I can make out all the colors of that moth that just landed on that rock…”
The act of just noticing and observing what is around us pulls us right back into the present moment and helps us to live in the NOW!
And remember, the more you incorporate practices like these, the more you can train your mind to stay in the present moment. It’s a practice. Once you do, you’ll feel more energized, less stressed, and discover an improved ability to cope with life’s ups and downs.
Live in the Now | Technique #4
Focusing on your Breath + Yoga
One of the quickest and easiest ways you can come into the present moment is to focus on your breath. When we place our focus on our breath, we have no other choice than to be in the present moment!
Yes, I know it sounds ridiculously simple and that’s because it IS!
Just breathe. Be aware of the in breath. Next, be aware of the out breath. Over time, be aware of the space and moment in between the end of each exhale and the beginning of the next inhale.
You can also pair this mindful breathing with a mantra to become more present. Not out loud, just in your head. On your inhale, you can repeat the mantra, “I am breathing in.” On your exhale say, “I am breathing out.”
Of course, you can also change up a mantra to something that feels more aligned to you. You can say something like, “I breathe in peace” on your inhales and, “I breathe out tension” on your exhales.
The key is to put your focus on the breath so you can live in the now and bring your awareness back to the present moment.
When you couple focusing on your breath with a yoga practice, things become even more powerful.
Yoga is an amazing complementary therapy I like to incorporate in my clients’ treatment plans because it is shown to help reduce anxiety and ease depression (1 & 2). But the main benefit yoga brings to this practice is the connecting mindful breath to the movement of your body.
Like in your everyday life, where you are constantly moving from one thing to the next, the poses and flows in a yoga practice help you stay present as you move from one situation to another. By learning to focus and engage with our breath in the present moment, this practice carries over off the mat and into our daily lives.
Random thoughts come up during practice. When you move your body, you release old, unprocessed emotions that can bring up thoughts and feelings. This is an invitation to keep moving and come back to your breath. It is natural. Just like we mentioned before: gently let the thoughts go and come back to the present.
Be gentle with yourself when this happens. It is a VERY good thing! It means you’re processing some of the sources of your stress, and it gives you an opportunity to acknowledge what is coming up for you and then gracefully using the breath to come back and live in the now.
Whether you incorporate a breathing practice into your daily routine or take it a step further with a yoga practice, you’ll be keeping yourself grounded and becoming more present. This means you’ll be able to more effectively keep stress levels low and your moods happy and healthy.
Become Present and Live in the Now
If your life has become too hectic, too fast-paced, and you’ve been feeling stressed, anxious, and unhappy, I hope you’ll take action today and incorporate some of the advice and strategies I’ve shared with you.
Remember, if you’re constantly being bogged down by past events, or worrying about the future, all that you’re doing is draining yourself of your precious energy. Come back and live in the now!
I encourage you to CHOOSE not to dwell on the past happenings or future possibilities. Every time we catch our thoughts focusing no what could have been or what may be, we rob ourselves of the pleasure and gifts available in the present moment. When we do, each time we make a choice to leave those things behind for what’s true and what’s now.
I hope these exercises and strategies will help you feel better in the moment and give you the courage and strength to make that choice each and every time!
Let me be clear, I’m not saying it’s bad to think about the past or the future. There are times when doing so might help us learn and incorporate a lesson after what we went through. It may help us give gratitude for a blessing we received. It can even help us prepare for what is coming up in our lives.
The key is to keep it in balance.
If you can make “living in the now” a majority of your time, you’ll definitely feel less stressed, less anxious, and much happier and healthier. Hopefully by trying out these exercises I shared above and making them your own, you’ll start to become more and more present in your life in no time.
Then you can stay connected and grounded into all the magnificence that you are, and everything that is around you too.
Because remember, dear one: you are deserving of all the peace, love, joy, and contentment this world has to offer!
You’ve got this and I believe in YOU!
P.S. Looking for more ways to live in the now and become present? Join my newsletter! It’s loaded with inspiration, anxiety-relieving tips, recipes, meal plans and more tools to help you find natural anxiety relief. I hope you’ll join me as I lead our tribe of peaceful warriors dedicated to finding natural anxiety relief!
P.S. If you liked this article, you may also like:
From Anxiety to Trusting in Life’s Perfection
The Power of Positive Language for Anxiety Relief
How Diet Contributes to Fatigue & Anxiety
7 Self-Care Practices to Cultivate Self-Love
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You’re very welcome! Thank you for reading and I hope you’ll come back from more education, inspiration and upliftment 🙂