Get Better at Being Present: Quick Tips

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Written By: Melissa Fiorenza

The mission to be more mindful is all the rage lately, with positive affirmations flying left and right from everyone you know…Live in the moment! Practice mindfulness! Meditate! But, it’s kind of hard, isn’t it?

For lessons on getting better at being present, we talked with Ruth Kent, a mindful wellness coach, meditation guru and yoga teacher with experience in coaching people to thrive using mindfulness and meditation techniques. Take a look.

First of all, why is it important to stay present as much as you can?

In my platform, Sunrise Well, one of my biggest drivers is to help people to realize that this day, the very moment they are in, is really all they have. You can't sit in the past, with memories and regrets, and it is impossible to live in the future, because you can't guarantee you will even be there and you have no way of knowing how things will pan out. The only thing you can truly be sure of is this present moment, and yet so many of us spend most of our time living in the past or the future, and so much of our energy is wasted on this.

The worst part about that way of living is that incredibly beautiful life moments are passing you by, and you are so distracted that you fail to recognize it. Not huge momentous events, just the little things that can change the way you see the world and give you a deeper appreciation for your day. Things like a smile from the shopkeeper, the way a leaf falls gently from a tree, the smell of mowed grass, fresh coffee, or blossoms in spring, the warmth of your partner's hand in yours at the end of the day.

Pretty soon, we will lose these moments, either from death loss, decline in age, or our own passing and I am passionate about helping people to embrace and recognize these moments before it is too late. This present moment awareness is not only good for you as a concept. Research shows that it has tangible benefits for the mind and body, such as increased resilience and a reduction in perceived stress.

What's a good way to bring yourself into the present?

One of the best ways that I've found is to use the five senses as your vehicle: touch, sight, hearing, taste, and smell. Wherever you are and whatever you're doing take long, calm breaths, and ask yourself these questions:

  • What can I feel? What is touching me? What am I touching? Notice the weight, the texture, the temperature, everything about touch.

  • What can I see? What is extremely close? Midfield? Far away? Notice colors, shapes, movement, everything about sight.

  • What can I hear? What sounds are in my immediate field? When you listen, what other sounds are there, ones you haven't noticed before. Notice everything about hearing.

  • What can I taste? Even without food or drink, notice if there is a taste in your mouth. Where is your tongue? How does it feel inside your mouth? Notice everything about taste.

  • What can I smell? Pay attention to the feeling of air rushing in and out of your nostrils, the coolness as you inhale and the warmth as you exhale. Notice any particular smells in your vicinity. Notice everything about smelling.

  • As your mind brings you the information, revel in it a moment. When you taste, really taste it. When you use your sight, really open your eyes and see what is around you. Remove the veil over all of your senses and truly experience the moment.

  • With practice, this scan should simply take a few moments and it can be the gateway to removing your thoughts from the past or future and bringing them into the present moment. Combining long calm breaths with a scan through the senses, you can begin to feel a sense of wholeness and presence, bringing greater contentment.

What’s a good way to REMEMBER to be present?

I like to suggest setting a timer that goes off at random times in the day. You could set a few alarms up on your phone the day before with a gentle bell that serves as your cue. You could also use the stopwatch on your phone and set it to go off after a few hours, changing the length of time for variety.

What else can you teach us?!

I have an online meditation coaching program in the works called '20 in 20 Meditate for LIFE'. The program is designed for people who want to meditate but can't seem to make it fit, don't think they can sit still for long periods, or are not confident in their practice. In the course, we gradually build their meditation practice from 3 minutes to 20 minutes over the course of 20 days, addressing and removing any obstacles that come up. Here's the sign-up to join the course wait-list. Anyone who signs up now will qualify for a 20% discount when the course is released!