7 simple ways to live in the moment

Kim Henderson
Reading time: 6 minutes

The phrase ‘Living in the Moment’ is often touted by spiritual gurus as the path to enlightenment and happiness. Mindfulness is a tactic proven to help with every facet of your life, from anxiety and depression, to boosting energy levels. The practice of bringing your focus back to the present moment can be used as a shortcut to deleting unhappiness from your life.

Person meditating outdoors
Photo by Ksenia Makagonova on Unsplash

Learning to live in the moment is the practice of developing awareness of your being without being judgemental or punishing yourself.

Many people struggle with applying consistent mindfulness practices in their life. Knowing how to get started and maintain the discipline needed to get results can be challenging. Fortunately, it’s a lot easier than you think. I’ve made a list of seven simple techniques to get you started. Let’s dive in:

1. Breathe

Often, when confronted with a stressful situation our breathing becomes shallow. Hyperventilating is a common anxiety response. Picture yourself being told the boss wants to see you in his office. This is a stressful moment that leaves many of us with sweaty palms and a sick feeling in the pit of our stomach. When faced with this sort of situation, even though it may not feel natural, use this as an opportunity to practice mindfulness by focusing on your breath. Control your shallow breathing by breathing in and out as deeply and as slowly as you can. Maintain this breathing while you focus on the breath: in…out…in…out. Listen to the sound of your breath. Become aware of the oxygen filling your lungs. Gently direct your thoughts to the physical sensation of breathing in and out. Over time, with practice, focusing on your breath will become your normal response to stressful situations. Your goal in the beginning is to remember to do it each time you are faced with such a situation. In time you will automatically use this practice as the bedrock of your new, calmer and more peaceful life.

2. Create something

Whether it’s art, craft, gardening, writing or playing a musical instrument. The art of creation is a mindfulness practice in itself. When you are creating something, you work in a state of complete awareness of the present moment. When you find yourself completely absorbed in the task of creation, you realise what it means to be in the zone. It helps if you are creating something with your hands. The act of physically bringing your creation down from the mental state is the key to this state of awareness. Zoning out in front of your phone or computer doesn’t get you there.

3. Wash your hands

In the world we currently live in, hand-washing is commonplace, and you might be tempted to rush through this process. But use something as simple as washing your hands as an opportunity to practice mindfulness. Mindfulness is not just about your mind, it’s about becoming aware of each part of your body and tapping into your senses as well. Feel the warmth or coolness of the water as it runs over your hands. Become aware of the smell of the soap you are using, the slippery feel of it on your fingers. Concentrate on the feeling of pressure as you rub your hands together and rinse them off. Feel the softness of the towel as you dry. You can experience dozens of mindfulness minutes a day if you use these small moments to focus your awareness.

4. Make the most of simple daily acts

We tend to often be on autopilot as we go about our day. But pick a moment in your daily routine that you deem as non-negotiable about bringing your awareness back to the present. Perhaps as you buckle your seatbelt in your car as you leave to drive to the supermarket, you can take an instant to slow down, breathe deeply and bring your attention fully to that moment. Or when you sit down at your desk at work waiting for your computer to turn on, you can become aware of the feeling of your feet on the floor. Make sure your feet are flat on the floor and you are sitting up straight in the chair. Notice the weight of your legs on the floor and the feeling of the ground supporting you and holding you. (This is also a good way to ‘ground’ yourself. I’ll write more about that in another post.) Just these few basic periods of full awareness of your body will cohesively sync your mind and body.

6. Walk

A daily walk is as healthy for you mentally, as it is physically. Walking at your naturally sleepy times of the day - first thing in the morning or at your 3pm slump - not only wakes you up and gets your blood pumping, it will naturally sync your mind and body, and bring you back to the present moment. Each time your mind wanders to the future or past and away from what you are seeing and feeling on your walk, gently redirect your thoughts to what you are experiencing in that moment. Become aware of the breeze on your skin, the sound of your feet hitting the pavement, the sight of a blue sky filled with birds. Hasten or slow your walk, depending on what works for you. Even a simple walk can become a zen pursuit.

7. Meditate

If you have trouble remembering all this, then meditate. Meditation strengthens your centre of consciousness and flexes those mindfulness muscles. If you are serious about improving your mental state and your life, meditation is by far the best thing you will ever learn to do. If you can find as little as 10 minutes in your day to sit quietly, focus on your breath and slow your thoughts down, you will find relief almost immediately. When beginning to learn to meditate, guided meditation can be helpful. There are tons of free guided meditations available to download online. My favourite is the isha kriya.

The practice of living in the moment is really all about learning to become aware, instead of going through life on autopilot, always rushing to get to someplace in the future, or lamenting on the past, and never really living.

If you can increase calmness, peace and stability in your thoughts, you will find that every other aspect of your life will experience calmness, peace and stability as well.

Is there any better way to live?

Peace. Unity. Love.