More and more, it seems like life can be so hectic. It’s as if we purposely overload ourselves with more things than we could possibly ever accomplish. Whether during the day or as I’m going to sleep, I think about all the things I need to get done: take a shower, make coffee, eat breakfast, brush my teeth, go to work, and more. It’s almost as if at the end of the day I ask myself, “Where did the day go?” Enough of these days and I can ask myself the same questions about weeks, months, or even years!
So when I feel these questions come up, I do some brief exercises that help bring me back to the present moment and remind myself that I’m living.
1. Whatever you are doing, just do it slower. If we work, we all have tasks to do there. Once a day, for five minutes, do one of those tasks a little bit slower. Don’t do the task in slow motion or take breaks, simply do whatever it is a little bit slower.
2. Notice what you’re eating. Start by taking five minutes at lunch, but you can actually do this anytime you eat. Notice what your food looks like, how it smells, feels, and tastes. As you pick up your food, notice the texture of it: is it bumpy, smooth, wet? Notice what you smell. When you bite into it, notice how it feels in your mouth, the tastes that are coming out of it, and how your teeth break it down. As you swallow, notice it going down your throat. Do the same with what you drink.
3. Notice your breath. Sit in a place of your choice: behind your desk, or anywhere. Close your eyes. For three minutes, simply pay attention to your breath. For these three minutes your breath gets your undivided attention. If you notice yourself thinking about something (even the thought, “Why am I doing this stupid exercise?”) just acknowledge that thought and then gently bring your attention back to your breath.
4. Wash the dishes. If you’re not used to doing dishes, there will be many benefits to this one. As you begin to wash the dishes, notice their texture and the warmth of the water on your hands. Inhale and notice if there is any scent. Listen to hear the rush of the water or any other sounds that are happening around you. Not only will you be able to practice being in the moment, but many of your family and friends will be thrilled with you.
5. Take a bath or shower. A bath is preferable if you have one, but even in a shower you can take a moment to feel the warmth of the water or how your body is immersed. How does your skin feel? Do you notice any smells? Is your hair wet? Just be in the moment and notice all your senses. Breathe.
6. Slow down your lovemaking. As you are making love to your significant other, take a moment to purposely move slightly slower. As you do this, begin to mentally feel all the parts of your body. How does your skin feels against theirs? How are you breathing? Are you sweating? Is there a scent in the air? Take a moment and really be there.
7. Smell a flower for an extra moment. This one I love. Often times I’ll pass by a flower and, if I remember to smell it, I’ll take an extra inhalation to really get the full strength of the scent. You will be surprised how much that extra inhale makes a difference in the experience.
8. Be silly. I’m serious! Being silly allows your creative juices to flow, and creativity is what life is all about. Letting yourself be silly can also be very relaxing and create joyful, meaningful situations.
9. Write a letter to someone close to you. Tell them how much you appreciate them. This is not a new idea by any stretch, yet it is always worth mentioning since it is so meaningful. Give them something that they will always cherish.
10. Remind yourself that you are a miracle. This may be the most important. How they heck did any of us get here? Even when we break it down to nanotechnology and quantum physics, scientists are still stumped to figure out the great mystery of us: being physically here, interacting, creating symbols and concepts, and communicating.
It’s boggling. That’s why our moments on this earth are so precious. It is a wonderful gift to attempt to cultivate those sacred moments in life.
You get the idea…now try it out!
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