How To Slow Down & Be Present

slow-down-and-be-present

“We have more possibilities available in each moment than we realize.” – Thich Nhat Hanh

I get in my car after work and drive home. I listen to the radio, or turn on my iPod and drive. As I pull into my driveway, I think to myself “wow, how did I get here so quick?” My 30-minute commute seemed like a 5-minute ride. It’s kind of scary, if you think about it. My mind was so distracted, that I didn’t even realize I was already home.

I was probably thinking about what to make for dinner while also planning out the next day. Maybe I was worried about something, or re-living something that happened at work. I’m sure this happens to you a lot, too; you’re having a conversation with someone and find yourself asking “wait, what? say that again?” because you weren’t paying attention.

Life moves at a fast pace. We spend most of it worrying about the future or re-living things that happened in the past. Is there anything wrong with thinking about the past or the future? Not necessarily. But, you can’t change the past, and you cannot control the future, no matter how hard you try, so why spend so much time worrying about it? If you’re not careful, life can pass you by, while you’re “someplace else”.

thich-nhat-hanh-quote

MINDFULNESS BELLS

These can really be anything- a certain color, a number, a sound. Using these will remind you to come back to the present moment. I have a few: a sparkling light- like when the sun hits the key chain that hangs on my rearview mirror, or a certain sound or number. If I walk around the office, or my house, and happen to hit my elbow on something, or when I accidentally drop my keys- I use that as a reminder too. Whenever I hear or see those “mindfulness bells” I stop and think “what am I doing right now, right this moment? Where are my thoughts wandering?” This is a really good way to start practicing being in a present moment.

FOCUS

Be present and focus. On your breathing, on what’s right in front of you, on your inner body, your senses. When you spend time with your friends or family, put your phone down. Pay attention. We are so easily distracted these days, and a lot of times when we’re with our loved ones, we aren’t actually there. Physically, yes, but our minds are often distracted, already thinking what to say next, or worrying about something completely unrelated. When you talk to someone, listen to their voice, focus on their words, notice their smile- then, rather than just meeting or seeing someone, you’ll actually connect with them.

DO ONE THING AT A TIME

Okay, I’m the worst at this, but practice makes perfect. I mention multitasking quite a lot and it’s probably because it’s something I, myself, still struggle with. I know that if I focus on one thing at a time, I’ll do a better job and get it done faster. When I try to split my focus between several different things, that focus can lose some of its power and my work isn’t as efficient. When you eat, do nothing else but eat. Whatever you’re doing- playing, working, washing the dishes, drinking tea- do your best to focus on one thing at a time. If you also struggle with multitasking, check out this article on Zen Habits.

SEE THINGS FOR THE FIRST TIME

We spend a lot of time chasing our dreams. We always want to do better, bigger things. We want to do our best for our families and our children. At times, we’re so concentrated on where we’re going, we forget to take a look at how far we’ve come. Whenever I become a little bit too focused on where I’m going in life, I bring myself back to present moment and I try to see everything for the first time. I see how much I’ve grown. I see that I smile and feel excited every single day as I open my eyes, whereas 6-7 years ago, I had to force myself out of bed each morning. I look at my brother and sister as they’re lost in a conversation and I remember the exact day when each of them was born. I get up early and have my morning tea in our backyard and I hear all these birds chirping and singing so loudly. How did I not hear or notice them before? When you start paying attention, you start noticing new things,  things that were always there.

PRACTICE

Being present isn’t always easy to do and it might feel a bit unnatural at first. This is why you need to practice it. Using tools like “mindfulness bells” is a good way to start. I actually like practicing mindfulness when doing simple things like washing the dishes or folding laundry. I love how warm the laundry is after I take it out of the dryer, that fresh smell and soft feel as I fold it- when you start paying attention to these things, without thinking about your next task or chore, they become more enjoyable. You can find pleasure even in those very simple things.

all-you-have-is-now

There is something magical about being present- when your mind is free of judgement in every single moment, every single thought. When you don’t worry about the future or stress about the past. If you think about it, all you ever have is now.

  • Molly Moran

    I absolutely loved this post! I think it’s difficult to live in the moment, but I’ve been working super hard on it because I know it’s extremely important to be aware. I loved the tips you shared, and I’ll definitely be putting them into practice!

  • amelia may

    This was such a lovely post to read on a Friday afternoon. I thoroughly enjoyed it….perfect advice for keeping present and staying in the moment. Xx

    Best wishes –
    Keep Calm and Start Writing
    23millymay25.blogspot.co.uk

  • girlonrainbow

    this is so lovely! I ´think you’re right that we should pay more Attention in the everyday commodities! Thank you <3

  • I have definitely become much better at being mindful of things, but I love the idea of seeing things for the first time. There’s so much in our lives that just go unnoticed and it’s a shame. Love this Paula, hope you have a great weekend! XO -Kim

  • Wow, this is a great post! I agree we all should slow down and be more present in our lives!
    http://livingblissfullybalance.weebly.com/

  • I really need to start being present, i have a bad habit of zoning out!

    http://www.whynotblog.co.uk

  • These are great tips! With social media it can be harder to be present and not thinking about other things. Really great post!

    xo, Liz
    http://lipstickandconfetti.com

  • Marta Sierra Marti

    I really needed a post like this. I feel like I’m always thinking about what’s next instead of enjoying the present and my achievements. Always with my head in the future!! So these tips are really great!

    Marta
    http://www.martamademoiselle.com

  • ♡mika♡

    Such interesting tips that you keep yourself on with! Glad that they help you, Paula! Definitely do think it’s important to try and be in the present, I’m always somewhere between the present and future, and not really in either/or. Lovely!

    xoxo
    http://www.hellohimawari.com

  • I’ve began to put my phone away most of the time when in the presence of others. I may take a quick snap of some moments, but I have received comments when others have noticed that everyone is on their phone but me. I don’t find it rude for them to do so in a group of friends, but I do appreciate it for myself. I’m then able to take them in, the scenery, and people watch. It’s quite enjoyable.

    This is a unique version of this type of post. At least, so far that I’ve seen. I appreciate that your tips are new point of views to a lot of common sense that we all have, but have learned to push away.

    Lately, I also have been putting jazz music on while I do errands. I try to minimize the TV background noise that tend to stop being background and distract me from my tasks. :)

    • I can’t stand it when I’m trying to have a conversation with someone and they have their nose stuck in their phone haha :) So I also try not to ever do it to others. I guess I just miss those times when we weren’t as connected to our phones as we are now :)

      Love listening to music- your routine sounds lovely!

      • I agree. I totally put my phone away when I’m in the company of others, especially if it’s one on one! What does put me off are the texts I see at the end of my outing with a friend, demanding to know why I’m not answering my texts. Those put so much pressure on me!

  • Biana Perez

    My husband asks me all the time to put my phone down and i find myself saying, one more hashtag or something else…but i saw you took one day away from it all and i want to do the same! xo, Biana —BlovedBoston

  • Ellen Warner

    these are great tips to bring you back. I’m currently writing a post that features something like this! xo

    https://57-days.blogspot.co.uk/2016/07/22-reasons-to-thank-my-friends.html

  • Stephanie Hartley

    I’m so bad on the multitasking front, and this is something I really want to work on changing! I’m such a sucker for flicking through social media whilst I’m meant to be writing, or watching TV when I’m eating. These are habits I’m definitely going to try and crack down on in the coming months

    Steph – http://www.nourishmeblog.co.uk

  • I love all these tips! I really need to be in the present, I’ve got the worst habit of zoning out!

    TOUCHOFGUCCI // BLOGLOVIN

  • This is amazing Paula. I thoroughly enjoyed this! Such AMAZING tips chick! Jodie xx

    http://www.jodiecaughey.com

  • Lots of amazing tips here – it’s so important to slow down sometimes. We are in such a fast paced world and sometimes we forget to appreciate the little things when we get caught up in everything. :)
    – Ambar x
    http://www.herlittleloves.co.uk

  • Being present is definitely something I struggle with, I tend to think about the future way too much. So thank you for sharing your tips! I think for me what helps me most is doing one thing at a time & trying to really put my focus on it :) x

    Sara / AboutLittleThings

  • Thank you for such beautiful writing and advices :) I guess it’s true in the modern life, people tend to multitask at everything. However, we have to remind ourselves again to be focus on doing what we want and set the priority first. As someone who overthinks easily, I am looking forward to apply all of your tips. I hope I will be really ‘present’ and more attentive on small things.

    Oh Dear Bumblebees

  • I am so useless at doing one thing at the time. I am not sure I have ever managed to stick to it for longer than 5 minutes…

  • I love this post. Since learning about mindfulness at university, I’ve really enjoyed incorporating it into my day to day life. I feel better for appreciating the things around me and just taking time to notice them. There are definitely ways I could improve this – I really like the idea of mindfulness bells to prompt me to be mindful more often.
    Jennifer x
    Ginevrella | Lifestyle Blog

  • Lisa Jayne Quick

    I love how in this post you gave tops for Mindefullness. This is something I struggle with so much. I also struggle with being in the present and rewarding myself with how far I’ve come as I’m not where I want to be in life which I just have to ride how and push forward (with the help of CBT). Thank you for this post.
    – Lisa lisajaynetextiles.co.uk

  • I really enjoyed this! You have such wonderful tips! It really does make me think!! x

    Victoria | http://victoriaahelenn.blogspot.co.uk

  • This is such a good and inspiring post. Thanks for sharing

    http://tealattewithstyle.com/

  • Samileen

    Oh I so need to make my husband read this. He is always re-living his office conversations or if he is not busy with his office work and thoughts, he’d be on his phone. I feel so exhausted just by looking at him. Such a wonderful, well put together post. Thank you.

    Sam || Beautydetour

  • Awesome post Paula. This was very inspiring!
    xo Brooke
    Beautydecorandmore.com

  • Margaux White

    You’re absolutely right, key is to live in the present and be focused! Thanks, very inspiring :)
    Margaux ∙ http://www.bonjourwhite.com

  • This is fantastic. Being present can be so difficult when there is so much going on – but being distracted by it all means that we lose out on so much. Thanks for sharing. xx