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Published on June 16, 2020

3 Mindfulness Techniques for Living in the Present Moment

3 Mindfulness Techniques for Living in the Present Moment

Life on Earth is an expression of the present moment and a journey with a beginning and end. Living and creating it shapes the concepts of past and future. While reading this you shape a new understanding and create your next move. We’re about to tackle two of the most complex concepts of all: mindfulness and presence.

To use mindfulness techniques effectively and efficiently, first we need to understand the basics of mental energy. The techniques won’t serve you if you are not capable of managing your mental fluctuations and the emotions produced by them.

Knowing this, we can effectively and efficiently apply a mindfulness technique and get the most out of the present moment.

Scratching the Surface of the Present

The mind is naturally collecting and processing information permanently, so it’s constantly occupied. We’re filling it up, and we’ve been doing so ever since we were born: childhood memories, imaginations, habits, traumas, ideas, and so on. Our mind is full of information, but it is not always mindful in a way that makes us aware of that information.

So, how do mindfulness techniques coordinate all this information in the present?

Since the mind is processing thoughts at an incredible speed, sometimes there is awareness of what is going on, and sometimes there isn’t. We often lack awareness when dealing with multiple emotions, thoughts, or events at once. Thinking always happens in the present moment, but that doesn’t mean we are conscious of what that thinking is producing.

It is not enough to say: “Yes, there is nothing but the present moment, and yes, I am fully aware of here and now.” And then? What happens when you have to deal with complex conflicts and negative emotions here and now?

You can be well aware of your memories, ideas, and knowledge, but if you fail to understand how they create mental energy, your present moment may end up being occupied with the past and the future.

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The Basics of Mental Energy

Our mental energy is developed through five mental fluctuations.

Simply put, a thought is a mental construct that produces certain emotions, such as enthusiasm, sadness, frustration, and happiness. The feeling, or mental energy, is the output or the capacity of the mind you get as a result of your thinking. Be aware that the five mental fluctuations can be applied positively as well as negatively:

  1. Righteous Knowledge – Cognition of the level of quality values lived in the present moment.
  2. False Knowledge – Taking the wrong for right; wrong perception or misconception.
  3. Imagination – The origin of an idea, and the power of creation.
  4. Memory – A recalling capability of how presence was lived.
  5. Sleep – A state of re-setting the fluctuations; the replenishment of mental energy, resting of mind and body.

These fluctuations and how they’re applied shape you as an individual: your mental energy (emotions) develops from the coordination of these fluctuations.

Knowledge + memories + imaginations + misconception = Emotions

The Present Moment

Presence, which is the ultimate reality of existence on a cosmic scale, untouched by any human concept, is interrupted by our ability to think and use intelligence, which can memorize or imagine a present moment. These mental activities — the recalling and constructing of thoughts — have created the concepts of past and future.

This is also where “time” comes in as an invention for the means of measurement and communication in our conscious world. We use time to label our past, present, and future but are often more concerned with the past and future as we attempt to rework past memories or plan for future events.

The present moment is difficult to tap into because it feels so fleeting. The past and future feel lengthy, tangible in some way. It is much more difficult to bring yourself to a moment that you know will soon pass. However, it is important to do so if you want to improve your focus and mental health.

The Length of the Present Moment

The present moment is as long as you want it to be. It can be as long as a beautiful melody, as the sound of the crashing waves upon the shore, or as the sound of a slamming door. Your perception decides. And the technique below can help you.

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To live in the present moment, you need a continuous, tangible experience. That continuous experience is your breathing. Breathing is so powerful because you will always be able to find it in the present moment.

The longer you are conscious of your breathing, the longer you live in the present moment and the longer your mindfulness is present. Here we come to the mindfulness techniques.

Mindfulness Techniques

The following are techniques to move you into the present moment. Experiment with each of these and find which one resonates with you.

1. Conscious Breathing

This involves closing your eyes and focusing on the sound and movement of your breath. Find where you in your body you feel your breath the most. Some say it’s in their chest, others in their stomach. Some people find it helpful to focus on the movement of air in and out of the nose. Wherever you feel it most, focus on that.

If your mind wanders, that’s ok. Simply practice bringing yourself back to the breath over and over again.

Some of the benefits of this technique[1] include:

  • Calming mental fluctuations
  • Enabling identification and distinction of emotions
  • Fading of (negative) emotions
  • Increasing attention and concentration
  • Improving self-inquiry and self-knowledge
  • Improving the quality of imagination, memory, and knowledge

An excerpt from the book About the Power of Breath explains the connection between the breath, awareness, and presence:

“The breath is the only natural connection of the mind with the Presence. And this connection between the breath and the mind is constant, permanent, it cannot be interrupted, it cannot be left out while the process of life is happening.”[2]

Breathe consciously and notice that your mindfulness is given. With this technique, you can stretch the length of your present moment and all mental qualities you wish to acquire will develop as a result in its own time.

2. Gazing

The mindfulness technique of gazing is simple to perform and has an immediate effect. Pointing your eyes at a certain object for as long as you can will bring your thoughts into one place.

Choose a flower, a candle light, or any interesting object you like and just gaze at it. Don’t analyze the object; just stare at it for as long as you can, and you’ll notice the improvement of your concentration, the awareness of yourself, your state of being, and eventually of your thoughts.

During the gazing you will be able to see, to observe a thought interrupting this mindfulness technique, which indicates the level of your awareness.

Repeat this exercise at least three times a day for a few minutes and make notes of the progress of your concentration and awareness.

3. Humming

The technique of humming is another way to enhance awareness and focus the mind.

  1. Close your eyes, looking at the inner side of your eyelids, and inhale slowly and deeply through your nose.
  2. Cover your ears with your palms to feel the humming more intensely.
  3. Exhale, creating a humming sound that resonates from your belly.
  4. Right after the humming is over, before your next inhalation, hold your breath for a few seconds and observe the one-pointedness of your mind.

Repeat this for at least ten breaths and increase this practice as you see fit.

I personally love this technique, as it instantly focuses my mind in the present moment and has an immediate soothing effect on my whole body and mind. Whenever I feel stressed, I do the humming exercise, and it instantly relieves all the pressure.

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The subtle vibration of the humming is an inner massage of your body, mind and soul, and makes you one (mindful) with the present moment.

Why Is Mindfulness Important?

Once your awareness moves away from the breath, you become aware of things and activities inside and outside yourself again. You may be gaining knowledge, but the inquiry into your true being and your psychological evolvement often cannot take place.

Mindfulness, with practice, will help you focus on what’s important and get rid of negativity and harmful thought patterns. You will find that you capture more of the important things happening in life and that you’re able to construct positive memories based on what’s happening here and now.

Final Thoughts

The gazing and humming mindfulness techniques are great for practicing concentration, restoring mental and physical strength, and connecting to the present moment. They prepare you to be as present as possible in the outside world. However, as great as they are, they’re limited in their application as you cannot gaze or hum while communicating to people or performing daily activities.

It’s only the technique of conscious breathing that can be used in any situation, at any moment. Applying it does not require a tranquil set-up like a yoga studio or meditation center. You can apply it everywhere, at any time. By doing so, you remain in the present moment, mindful, for as long as you want.

More Tips on Mindfulness Techniques

Featured photo credit: Cristian Newman via unsplash.com

Reference

More by this author

Marcin Gil

Marcin is a spiritual being just like anyone challenging to uncover what we already have โ€“ spiritual freedom.

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Last Updated on July 8, 2020

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

How to Say No When You Say Yes Too Often

Do you say yes so often that you realize you aren’t really happy about this, wondering how to say no to people?

For years, I was a serial people pleaser. Known as someone who would step up, I would gladly make time especially when it came to volunteering for certain causes. I proudly carried this role all through grade school, college, even through law school. For years, I thought saying “no” meant I would disappoint a good friend or someone I respected.

But somewhere along the way, I noticed I wasn’t quite living my life. Instead, I seem to have created a schedule that was a strange combination of meeting the expectations of others, what I thought I should be doing, and some of what I actually wanted to do. The result? I had a packed schedule that left me overwhelmed and unfulfilled.

It took a long while but I learned the art of saying no. Saying ‘no’ meant I no longer catered fully to everyone else’s needs and could make more room for what I really wanted to do. Instead of cramming too much in, I chose to pursue what really mattered. I started to manage my time more around my own needs and interests. When that happened, I became a lot happier. And guess what? I hardly disappointed anyone.

The Importance of Saying No

When you learn the art of saying ‘no,’ you begin to look at the world differently. Rather than seeing all of the things you could or should be doing (and aren’t doing), you start to look at how to say yes to what’s important.

In other words, you aren’t just reacting to what life throws at you. You seek the opportunities that move you to where you want to be.

Successful people aren’t afraid to say no. Oprah Winfrey considered one of the most successful women in the world confessed that it was much later in life when she learned how to say no. Even after she had become internationally famous, she felt she had to say yes to virtually everything. It was only when she realized that after years of struggling with saying no, I finally got to this question: “What do I want?”

Being able to say no also helps you manage your time better.

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Warren Buffett views no as essential to his success. He said,

“The difference between successful people and really successful people is that really successful people say no to almost everything.”

When I made ‘no’ a part of my toolbox, I drove more of my own success focusing on fewer things and doing them well.

How We Are Pressured to Say Yes

It’s no wonder a lot of us find it hard to say ‘no.’

From an early age, we are conditioned to say ‘yes.’ We said yes probably hundreds of time in order to graduate from high school and then get into college. We said yes to find work. We said yes get a promotion. We said yes to find love and then yes again to stay in a relationship. We said yes to find and keep friends.

We say yes because it feels better to help someone. We say yes because it can seem like the right thing to do. We say yes because we think that is key to success. And we say yes because the request might come from someone who is hard to resist like the boss.

And that’s not all. The pressure to say yes doesn’t just come from others. We put a lot of pressure on ourselves. At work, we say yes because we compare ourselves to others who seem to be doing more than we are. Outside of work, we say yes because we feel guilty we aren’t doing enough to spend time with family or friends.

The message no matter where we turn is nearly always, “You really could be doing more.” The result? When people ask us for our time, we are heavily conditioned to say yes.

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How to Say No Without Feeling Guilty

Deciding to add the word ‘no’ to your toolbox is no small thing. Perhaps you already say ‘no’ but not as much as you would like. Maybe you have an instinct that if you were to learn the art of ‘no’ that you could finally create more time for things you care about. But let’s be honest, using the word ‘no’ doesn’t come easily for many people.

The 3 Rules of Thumbs for Saying No

1. You Need to Get Out of Your Comfort Zone

Let’s face it. It is hard to say no. Setting boundaries around your time especially you haven’t done it much in the past will feel awkward.

2. You Are the Air Traffic Controller of Your Time

Remember that you are the only one who understands the demands for your time. Think about it, who else knows about all of the demands on your time? No one. Only you are at the center of all of these requests. are the only one that understands what time you really have.

3. Saying ‘No’ Means Saying ‘Yes’ to Something That Matters

When we decide not to do something, it means we can say yes to something else. You have a unique opportunity to decide how you spend your precious time.

6 Ways to Start Saying No

Incorporating that little word ‘no’ into your life can be transformational. Turning some things down will mean you can open doors to what really matters. Here are some essential tips to learn the art of no:

1. Check in With Your Obligation Meter

One of the biggest challenges to saying ‘no’ is a feeling of obligation. Do you feel you have a responsibility to say yes and worry that saying no reflect poorly on you?

Ask yourself whether you truly have the duty to say yes. Check your assumptions or beliefs about whether you carry the responsibility to say yes. Turn it around and instead ask what duty you owe to yourself.

2. Resist the Fear of Missing out (FOMO)

Do you have a fear of missing out (FOMO)? FOMO can follow us around in so many ways. At work, we volunteer our time because we fear we won’t move ahead. In our personal lives, we agree to join the crowd because FOMO even while we ourselves aren’t enjoying the fun.

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Check in with yourself. Are you saying yes because of FOMO or because you really want to say yes? More often than not, running after fear doesn’t make us feel better.

3. Check Your Assumptions About What It Means to Say ‘No’

Do you dread the reaction you will get if you say no? Often, we say ‘yes’ because we worry about how others will respond or the consequences of saying no or because of the consequences. We may be afraid to disappoint others or think we will lose respect from others. We often forget how much we are disappointing ourselves along the way.

Keep in mind that saying ‘no’ can be exactly what is needed to send the right message that you have limited time. In the tips below, you will see how to communicate your no in a gentle and loving way. You might disappoint someone initially but drawing a boundary can bring you the freedom you need so that you can give freely of yourself when you truly want to.

4. When the Request Comes In, Sit on It

Sometimes, when we are in the moment, we instinctively agree. The request might make sense at first. Or we typically have said yes to this request in the past.

Give yourself a little time to reflect on whether you really have the time, or can do the task properly. You may decide the best option is to say ‘no.’ There is no harm in giving yourself the time to decide.

5. Communicate Your ‘No’ with Transparency and Kindness

When you are ready to tell someone no, communicate your decision clearly. The message can be open and honest to ensure the recipient that your reasons have to do with your limited time.

Resist the temptation not to respond or communicate all. But do not feel obligated to provide a lengthy account about why you are saying no.

A clear communication with a short explanation is all that is needed. I have found it useful to tell people that I have many demands and need to be careful with how I allocate my time. I will sometimes say I really appreciate that they came to me and for them to check in again if the opportunity arises another time.

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6. Consider How to Use a Modified ‘No’

If you are under pressure to say yes but want to say no, you may want to consider downgrading a “yes” to a “yes but…” giving you an opportunity to condition your agreement to what works best for you.

Sometimes, the condition can be to do the task but not in the time frame that was originally requested. Or perhaps you can do part of what has been asked.

Final Thoughts

Beginning right now, you can change how you respond to requests for your time. When the request comes in, take yourself off autopilot where you might normally say yes.

Use the request as a fresh request to draw a healthy boundary around your time. Pay particular attention to when you place certain demands on yourself. If you are the one placing the demand on yourself, try to evaluate the demand as if it were coming from somewhere else.

Try it now. Say no to a friend who continues to take advantage of your goodwill. Or, draw the line with a workaholic colleague and tell them you will complete the project but not by working all weekend. Or, tell someone in your family you can’t loan them money again because they never paid you back the last time. You’ll find yourself much happier.

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Featured photo credit: Chris Ainsworth via unsplash.com

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