Though I’m no mechanic or automotive enthusiast, I can confidently say that I know my car like the back of my hand. It’s been four years since my parents passed down the family hatchback to me, and within that span of time, I’ve gotten a pretty good idea at knowing when something about my car is “off.” The slightest change in sound to the ignition or smallest adjustment to my rearview mirror’s positioning rarely goes unnoticed and is often met with a quick resolution (albeit I usually wait longer than I should for my routine oil check). I wish I could say this same level of care and attention followed my everyday life.
Too often, I find myself living in my head—mentally scheduling my day’s to-do’s or thinking about that embarrassing moment I experienced in high school. I dwell upon the future and past, rarely acknowledging the present, and this mentality has certainly had its share of cons.
It’s been difficult to completely abolish the seemingly never-ending dread of anxiety that comes when thinking about the next task I have to complete. And if I’m not worrying over that, I’m mulling over the countless other ways I could have acted during a past experience. I recently had an interview for an internship with a company whose mission and business aesthetic are exactly what I was looking for. And though the interview went well—with minimal stuttering and a consistent smile on my face—I still hold some doubt over my responses and conduct. These intrusive thoughts worm into my mind, blithely setting up shop, and (not to sound too overdramatic) rule my life.
As I came to notice this issue, I coincidently chanced upon a guided meditation by Aileen Xu, a well-known YouTube personality going by the name Lavendaire, who’s amassed a large audience for content centering around “personal growth + lifestyle design.” In the video, Aileen describes the past and future as figments of the imagination, a series of illusions created by the mind that anchor us towards anxiety, worry, and insecurity. She tells viewers to delight in the present and the feeling of relief stemming from focusing upon our physical body because it is the only tangible moment that can be held on to.
Aileen’s perspective resonated with me and has led me on a journey to focus more on my present self. I’ve decided to put an end (or at least a strong block) towards the thoughts ruling my mind and life. The present is our “place of power” and should be upheld to standards befitting of our best selves. Here are two core practices I’ve implemented into my lifestyle to embody the present moment!
By meditating, we make the conscious decision to devote our time and energy towards a practice rooted in welcoming and reveling in the present moment. Meditation is a profoundly mindful experience, meaning that throughout the practice, the mind’s focus should be drawn to our body and the space around us.
If you’re new to the concept or considering meditation, here’s a simple and brief step-by-step that may help you.
Find a quiet place where you can sit comfortably.
Once settled, look in front of you with a soft gaze, and when you’re ready breathe in through your nose and exhale through the mouth. As you exhale gently close your eyes.
Draw your attention to your space and body. This can mean focusing upon the sounds around you, the weight of your body on the surface beneath, or the rhythm of your breath.
Focus upon these aspects for as long as you need. The intention behind the practice is to ground yourself into the present moment and ease the worries of the mind.
If you find your mind wandering to thoughts of the past or future during your meditation, that’s okay! Shutting the mind completely off is an impossible task. Instead, just notice when the mind begins to wander and, upon noticing, divert your attention back to your space and body.
Note that everyone’s meditative practice is different so as you go on this journey towards easing the mind and welcoming the present, take all that benefits you and drop what doesn’t.
Personally, I’ve found that guided meditations during the early morning are my preferred method of practice. Meditation has helped to ease the worries in my mind and has allowed me to truly enjoy the present. Whenever I find myself dwelling on the past or future, there’s comfort knowing I can lean on my practice. You may prefer to practice in the evening or have some light ambient music playing in the background. The options are endless and how to experience your practice is entirely up to you.
If you’re not a fan of sitting still, consider going on a walk around your neighborhood, local park, or favorite trail. Use the opportunity to focus on the present moment and admire the visual and auditory beauty of everything around you.
For the first time in a long while, I took a genuine look at the sky--seriously! I tilted my head at a 90-degree angle and gawked at how marvelously blue the sky was. The clouds were sparse, with the occasional condensation trail slicing through. It was a truly eye-opening experience. You’ll be amazed at what you can notice when the mind and body are locked within the present.
It was hard at first to slow things down. So often, we find ourselves unknowingly living in our heads. We recall past experiences then jump to uncertain futures, allowing anxiety and worry to multiply. However, when we focus on the present, we un-jumble our hardworking minds. Viewing the thoughts that worry me simply as misperceptions of my present reality has helped me acknowledge that no moment in life is truer than the “now.”
I cannot change the past or predict the future, so why dwell on either?
Experiencing these new states of awareness and learning to embody the present moment has allowed me to learn more about myself and prioritize my needs. By embodying the present we nurture our mind and selves.
What practices do you put in place to embody the present moment? Sound off in the comments below!
About the Author:
Aaron Talledo is currently pursuing his BA in English at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. He finds inspiration from literature, music, and film and expresses creativity through writing. In his free time, Aaron enjoys fitness, meditation, and video games.