Healthy Living

5 Ways I Learned to Be More Present

This summer I made it my mission to plug into each moment, to be more present in all I do, the good, the bad and the mundane. I’m the type who can worry about things I have no control over (watching my kids body surf in the dark swell of the Atlantic) as well as stupid things like dishes piling up in the sink. I decided this summer was going to be different, I was gonna carpe diem the shit outta everyday and (for the most part) I have.
Here are 5 ways I’ve approached being more present:

1. I slowed it down.

I’ve been blessed with teaching a yoga-boot camp class on the beach this summer. I never know who or how many will show up or what they might expect. One morning I had 5 participants and the next I had 24. Instead of being anxious about this, I shifted my approach by planning for each class then let it all go, allowing myself to slow down and enjoy the uniqueness of the group that day, the lines of the beach that morning, moving and flowing organically with what nature brings as well as the personalities of the students. Finding myself “in the moment” while teaching these classes has been pure bliss. (That’s us on the beach in the photo below.)

2. I released regretting and dreading the end of my favorite season.

You know that melancholy end of summer tug that grabs hold of your heart? As the last days of summer begin to wane, I am letting go of worrying about all the things I had planned to do (paddle boarding, reading through a stack of saved magazine articles, jogging everyday) and instead I’m striving to stand in the presence of every second of every day, not looking back with regret and embracing the moment without rushing into the future.

3. I got outside tuned into everything happening around me.

At night I watch the stars and get lost in the shimmering dark sky. I love the smell of fresh cut grass and the hubbub of birds chattering in the trees. The sound and feel of my sneakers slapping on the pavement while my dog trots along side me. The breeze on my skin, seeing the way the light filters through the clouds, hearing the distant hum of a plane overhead, noticing the smile on that little girl’s face when she whizzes by on her bike. This is all part of life. Soak it up, breathe it in, feel it, smell it, hear it, see it, taste it.

4. I cleared my demon voice and made room for passion and creativity.

The demon voice inside (we all have one, sorry to spill the beans) that spews judgement and criticisms and loves encouraging us to play out destructive scenarios is a super buzz-kill. I told it to shove off and this made room for some spontaneously delicious meals, a few story ideas, lost moments in books, attempts with my watercolors and beachsome sweet moments creating lasting memories with friends and family. The point isn’t the end project, the point is not letting that demon voice rule you. Tuck it away so you can utilize the full potential of your mind and heart, your passion and creativity and share your love for life with the world.

5. I trusted and accepted myself and went to a party.

Second guessing ourselves is a sure-fire way to build a raggedy roadblock to living in the moment. I was invited to attend a party with my husband recently where I would literally not know a single person there (and I was informed there were several large guard dogs on the property, which briefly brought back a traumatic childhood flash of Brownie, the mean neighborhood mutt who terrorized me on several occasions.) So that jacked up my anxiety level just a tad more. In the past I would have bailed, but I decided to just go, just be me, just not worry about the dogs. I ended up having a great time and made some new friends. I trusted that the evening would be what it would be and I got lost in the architecture of the old home we visited, the interesting and eclectic guests, the lush gardens, the delicious spinach enchiladas I ate on the patio, the stars in the sky on the drive home, and the late-night spontaneous stop my husband and I made at I-Hop for some pancakes. The evening turned out to be one of the best of the summer, and in case you’re wondering, the dogs were big teddy bears.
I’m learning the goal is to not let the thoughts of the past or present collide and junk-up our experience of what is happening right now, in the present moment. It’s not always easy, and certainly not always second nature, but one thing is becoming clearer, my moments and I are getting chummier and I like it. This is a trend I will be enlisting in all four seasons, but summer will always be my favorite.
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    • Laura

      Hi Alice,
      Thank you for taking the time to comment and I’m so happy you feel inspired to give mindfulness and being present another try!
      What I love about this concept is you can start at anytime and anyplace.
      Good luck and hope to see you here again soon,
      Laura McDonald

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