What does "being in the moment" really mean?
Updated: Nov 27, 2019
“Being in the moment” is all about being present. Being holistically present means that your mind, body and soul are in harmony, that your full attention is in a specific place and time. I.e. You are not sitting having a coffee with a friend whilst at the same time replaying in your mind a stressful day at work. Rather you are sitting there fully engaged, actively listening to you friend. Not anticipating questions or answers but simply being there in the moment, going with the flow.
Indeed one of the best gifts you can give a friend is that of presence. Just think about it, how often are we sat having a chat with a friend whilst simultaneously being distracted by our phone beeping with a new message or the latest Instagram post, our mind still annoyed with the amount of traffic on the road which meant we were late whilst maybe even eating or drinking something at the same time too. Being in the moment here would mean focusing on just one of the four activities enumerated: accepting to give your entire self to that discussion with a friend, stepping out to take a call or reply to a message, letting go of the stress and anger caused by the traffic or finaly giving your full attention to what each spoonful whatever you are eating actually tastes like. Why not try it and see if you can feel a difference when you focus on just one thing at a time?
Living in the moment is something very different from living by the famous mantra “carpe diem” though. Indeed being present doesn’t mean that we can’t plan or think ahead. It just means that we aren’t defined but what we think might happen or what we’d like to happen in the future. We are anchored in the moment knowing that at that particular moment in time it is all we have but acknowledging that there are things to come.
So how do I get “into the moment”? If any of you have read some of my previous posts you’ll have understood that yoga is a big one for me. If you are one of the ever increasing amount of people that have a hetic, busy life then why not try giving yourself just 5 or 10 minutes of yoga in the morning when you wake up? There are even a couple of videos online that you can do in bed! By showing your body and mind that you are investing some time for them, however small, you are setting up your compassionate, caring, present mind-set for the rest of the day. By focusing on your breathing, how your body feels, what’s going through your mind you can take that time to acknowledge what’s going on with you and see what you want to do with it moving forward.
Another thing that’s been helping me become more and more present and that I’ve started enjoying more recently is Meditation. Like a lot of people I bore a common misconception about Meditation for a long time. I thought it was all about getting rid of thoughts and emptying your mind. Given how many questions, doubts and thoughts go through my mind per minute I simply assumed Meditation wasn’t for me, which reminds me of a similar mistake that I made with Yoga, thinking I wasn’t flexible enough. Anyway, Meditation isn’t about getting rid of your thoughts it’s about simply acknowledging them, recognising that they are there and knowing that you have the choice of getting sucked into every thought or equally you can give it a nod, smile, frown, whatever you fancy and then let it go. As my Headspace App reminded me nicely this morning “Don’t try and change your thoughts, just get a different perspective on them”. Meditation Gurus use metaphors like clouds passing through the sky or trains coming in and out of the station, no matter which image you prefer, what’s important here is to understand that if you remain focused on the blue sky or the train platform then you are present, in the moment. If you are capable of letting the clouds or trains come and go without having to chase after every one of them you will be able to enjoy that almost indescribable feeling of being fully present.
The feeling of being present is something that I’m sure differs from one person to another but for me it’s like that feeling of taking in a huge gulp of wonderful fresh sea air when you’ve just got out of the car after a long journey to the beach. Or that feeling of elation coming out of an interview that went well or maybe when you’ve just crossed the finish line after giving it your all at an important race. Even if only momentarily you get that feeling of being on cloud 9, that sensation that nothing else matters but the now. It’s in those moments that you suddenly realise that you were clenching your jaw tightly or that your shoulders were up by your ears. Maybe even as you read this you are noticing some things and letting go of that stress that you were holding and entering a space where there is a sense of lightness, of calm confidence knowing that whatever comes your way you feel up to dealing with it, an acute sense of awareness of your surroundings, noises, smells, sights. When I’m in the moment I feel relaxed, all my bodily tensions leave me but I equally feel alert and strong, ready to take action when my instinct, my gut, will tell me it’s the right time.
As the sensation is different for each of us so are the ways that we enter that state. Things you could try : yoga, meditation, simply taking a few deep breaths and focusing wholly on your natural breath, sophrology, pilates, tai chi, other “soft” sports, listening to music, walking in nature, smelling your favourite flower, connecting to a mantra, feeling your feet on the floor, and the list goes on. Finding your anchor is something that will help you find your way back to the present moment. Obviously some are easier to do than others in public places, I sometimes wish I could just start doing some yoga in the middle of a crowded street to bring my focus back to the now! I’ve not done it yet but watch this space…
Finally, I’d say that being in the moment is something that you cannot fully understand until you have experienced it. Equally, once you have experienced it you will want nothing else but to experience it again, repeatedly!
I wish you all fun and smiles if you decide to attempt to live in the moment, trust me when I say it’ll be the start of an adventure that you’ll never want to end.