by J McNair
Many people interested in spirituality talk about experiencing “the present moment” and how important it is to be “in the here and now.” It sounds straightforward, but I often wondered, what does it actually mean? How can we be in the moment and stay in it? Can we experience inner peace simply by being “present”?
The present moment is what is occurring now, as you are reading these words. It is the reality of life that exists all around us.
We may think that we’re in the present moment already, but this is actually part of the problem: we often only think about the present moment, without truly experiencing it.
There is a technique that I’ve used to increase awareness of the present moment, which I learned in a free online course at gnosticweb. This technique involves perceiving the information from the five senses – simply by tuning in to the world around you.
This is something you can try right now.
Take a moment to perceive where you are, using the five senses. What can you see, hear, touch, taste, and smell in this moment? What are the sounds of your environment? If you are drinking a cup of tea, notice the flavours and the feelings of drinking it. If you are using a computer, notice how the mouse feels under your fingers. Keep allowing information from the world around you to reach you naturally through your senses.
If you try to maintain this awareness, you can notice a sense of peace, even if just for a moment. But I’ve also seen that staying in the moment isn’t that easy. What happens to ‘the moment’ if you become lost in a daydream? What about if some difficult or exciting event takes place? Remaining aware of the present moment requires a constant effort.
The good news is that we can actually use our daily activities to help us become aware of the present moment – and to stay there.
Here’s another useful technique to that I’ve learned: select anchor points to remind you to be aware. Choose activities that you do at least once a day, such as washing the dishes, showering, taking your shoes on and off, driving, and so on. Whenever one of these activities happens, remind yourself to be in the present moment and remember to become aware.
So if one of your activities is showering, you’ll be prompted to be in the moment each time you take a shower. If you get distracted by thoughts or feelings during this activity, just bring your attention back to what you’re doing: the warmth of the shower, the aroma of the shampoo, the sound of the water, and everything else around you.
With practice, I’ve found these daily anchor points can help me remember to be in the moment more and more often. These exercises have been invaluable in helping me understand the benefits of awareness, by experiencing and appreciating life in the here and now.