(This is a post I wrote a long time ago, before The Power of Now or mindfulness were everyday concepts).
Being Present: A Simple Way to Reduce Stress and Anxiety
Stress has become a major factor in all of our lives. If not handled properly, stress throws our bodies out of balance and into a state of dis-ease – not only physically but emotionally and spiritually. Much of our stress is due to worrying about “what if’s”. Guess what? These “what if’s” may never happen.
An interesting concept, definitely not new but underutilized, is “living for the moment”. By living in the present, really paying attention to life, other thoughts (worries, stresses …) can’t co-exist. Reducing stress levels has enormous benefits such as increased health and vitality, calmness, improved concentration, restful sleep and happiness. Living in the present has many more.
Staying focused in the present takes a little practice but once learned, it’s a simple way to reduce your stress and add a new dimension to your life, even if only for the moment.
An Easy Way to be Present
An easy way to get started is by paying attention to your breath – this is also referred to as ‘conscious breathing’. Take a few minutes to try this: get comfortable, close your eyes. As you breathe in feel the air being pulled in, your abdomen expanding and lungs filling. As you exhale feel your abdomen drawing in and the air leaving your lungs and passing through your nose. As your mind wanders to other thoughts, keep bringing yourself back to the present, to your breath. A variation to this method is to silently say something to yourself as you breathe in and out – such as relax/release or even breathe in/breathe out. This will help you stay focused. Breathing like this is a simple tool that can be used anywhere and will instantly reduce your stress level, anxiety, heart rate and blood pressure.
Being Passionate & Sensual
Adding passion and sensuality to your life will also keep you focused in the present and living will become so much more pleasurable and rewarding. Most people think of this purely in a sexual context but by definition, this is not true. Passion can be defined as “any powerful or compelling emotion or feeling” and sensual as “of or pertaining to the senses or physical sensation”. We might as well add in intimacy also – “of, pertaining to, or characteristic of the inmost or essential nature; intrinsic”. Our lives have become so busy and we so preoccupied, that we have lost touch with these precious gifts of living. Imagine if you lived your life passionately, sensually and intimately – stress wouldn’t dare enter into the picture.
Our spiritual nature craves sensuality, passion and intimacy and these are only realized by living in the present. Developing a passion for life is very rewarding and really changes your outlook. Recognizing and developing sensuality in all you do definitely keeps you in the present and is the easiest way to add passion and intimacy into your life. The senses include touch, taste, sight, smell and sound.
So, how do you develop sensuality?
Stay present in the moment and pay attention to your senses. Start by really tasting your food. Is it sweet, sour, bitter…? What does it smell like? What does it feel like in your mouth – dry, juicy? Is it pleasing to look at? Savor your meal, eat slowly. Enjoying your meal like this will prevent overeating as well as providing the proper digestion … and your daily stresses won’t be present at dinner. We can easily stretch this theme to include the preparation and presentation. Pay attention to details – cut your carrots all the same thickness, notice the different textures of the foods … Did you remember the candles and relaxing dinner music? Now for the dishes and cleanup.
How to Be Present at Work
Being present at work can be a little more challenging but still within reach. Breathing works well in the work environment. Believe it or not, you can be sensual (not sexual) at work. Arrange your desk so it pleases your senses. Take a walk at lunch. Stay present and focused. Pay attention in meetings. Do your best at what you do (without an attitude) – self-gratification is wonderful and recognition will come if that’s what you desire.
And Be Present in Relationships
Just imagine how applying these simple ideas may transform a relationship. Stay in the present. Listen to what your partner is saying and feeling. Do you know what it feels like to hold “their” hand — or could it be any hand? Don’t you dare let thoughts of work or anything else distract you. We won’t go any deeper in this article.
Enjoy life! And as the Reggae song goes … “Don’t worry, be happy!”