Why would you want to become more present? Well, being more present has various benefits: less worry and stress in your life, an increased feeling of freedom and a more direct experience of yourself as consciousness, your true essence. Being more present is challenging for most people because their mind constantly interferes. Although there are some who suggest that you should learn to silence your mind, this is practically impossible and also unnecessary.
Many spiritual teachers will tell you, and I know this also from personal experience, that you simply cannot turn your mind off. It would be like stopping your heart from beating or lungs from breathing. Thinking thoughts is what your mind naturally does.
It is also not necessary to silence your mind. The trick is to no longer identify yourself with the thoughts but just observe them as clouds passing by in the sky. By becoming more present and observant you will notice that this identification with your mind and your thoughts will gradually and naturally subside.
The following five simple, practical exercises I got from www.createchangeinyourlife.com (unfortunately, this website is no longer active) will help you become more present. The fun thing is that you can do these exercises anytime, anywhere, and the more you practice the less effort it will take. You don’t need to do them all, just pick the one(s) that you feel the most attracted to.
If you prefer to listen to these exercises with some nice, soothing music, you may want to go directly to the video (10:26) below.
1: Using Conscious Breathing
Breathing is a well known spiritual technique to help you become more present, aware and observant. There are several ways that you can use your breathing and it all starts by taking a moment to consciously focus on your breath.
- Take one long inhale through your nose and hold your breath for 10 seconds. Then exhale slowly for another 10 seconds before inhaling again. Repeat several times.
- Take a deep breath through your nose and then exhale slowly and consciously through your mouth. Repeat several times.
- Take six deep breaths in a very conscious way, slowly and calmly.
Why not try these breathing exercises right now and experience for yourself how conscious breathing helps you become more present and aware?
2: Defusing Your Past
This exercise is especially helpful when you often think of the past and have difficulties to release certain experiences.
- Close your eyes for 10 seconds, open them, look around and then ask yourself where is my past? After a brief moment close your eyes again for 10 seconds, open them and ask yourself again where is my past? Repeat until you become consciously aware that your past is gone and is only a memory or interpretation in your mind. The only time you really have is right now in the present moment.
3: Becoming Aware of Silence
- During the day pick a moment to become aware of silence. Listen to it between gaps of noise. Don’t mind a car rushing by, or a voice you hear, just focus on the moments of silence that you can observe and allow the silence to wash over you.
4: Observing Your Thoughts
For this exercise it will be helpful to sit in a place where you will not be disturbed for a few minutes.
- While sitting in a relaxed position, close your eyes and start to observe your thoughts like you would watch images on a screen. Don’t judge the thoughts, just be curious to find out what the next thought will be. Continue doing this until you feel ready.
5: Using Your Senses
This exercise will help you if you are constantly absorbed by thoughts and become more aware of what is going on in your life outside your mind.
- Take a moment to consciously collect information about the world around you through your touch, your eyes, your ears, your smell and perhaps though your taste. What can you see around you? What can you hear around? What can you smell or feel around you?
I invite you try all these exercises in the next few days and decide which one(s) you like best and start to practice them every day for a few minutes of your time. You will be surprised by the positive impact it will have on your life.