A reader wrote in to ask “How can I live in the moment? How to be Now?” To answer the questions, there are many ways to be present minded. Mindfulness is the key. When you learn to be mindful you start to live in the moment.
Life is lived in moments; so why continue to think of the past or future? The key to Life is always now, and never then.
Take a moment to just stop.
And answer this one question: what are you thinking about?
Odds are you’re thinking about a lot. Work, relationships, family life. . . these modern days of demands, expectations, rules and structure often feel as though they’re custom built to keep our minds distracted by something. Rarely if ever do we truly live in the moment. The vast majority of us (if not all of us) feel unable to find enough freedom from pressure and stress to create the inner stillness and calmness to allow ourselves to live fully in the moment.
How can I live in the the moment when there’s so much stress?
It’s a valid question. When there are so many stresses how can I live in the moment?
If we are to take control of the stress and pressure we feel, we must learn to separate ourselves from our thoughts, to free ourselves from those concerns about work, relationships and life. We need to learn that whilst we might have a job we are not our jobs. We need to learn that whilst we might have relationships, we are not our relationships. We need to learn that whilst we might have thoughts, we are not our thoughts.
To do this, we need to cultivate a mentality of mindfulness, the mentality of an open mind, where we observe our thoughts without judging or grasping at them, but simply being aware of them. When we stop grasping at our thoughts, they slip through our minds with the ease of water, loosening their grip on us, allowing us to live in the moment.
Mental Health Benefits of Mindfulness & Living in the Moment
The mental health benefits of mindfulness have been written and spoken about a great deal over the last few years, but to give some highlights.
Mindfulness reduces stress, boosts immune system functioning, lowers blood pressure, reduces chronic pain, helps with cancer, lowers the risk of heart disease, makes people happier, more exuberant, more secure and more empathetic, improves self esteem, helps fight depression and helps improve relationships. And this is just a snapshot of the health benefits of mindfulness.
Most important to this article, however, is the fact that mindfulness loosens the grip our thoughts have on us and allows us to focus on the present, ultimately allowing us to live in the moment. And when you live in the moment you will be mentally strong and happy.
So, how can we develop mindfulness and live more in the moment?
You’ll find articles on meditation for mindfulness all over the internet (including this site), but here let’s look at some of the less frequently discussed exercises, beginning with an exercise used in by actors to help them perform more freely and to be more creative. exercises are all used in arts to help performers and artists let go, be more spontaneous and, as a result, more creative. All the exercises are a lot of fun and will provide immediate health and performance benefits as well as helping you to live in the moment.
One technique to live in the moment and to be Now is to mimic.
I used to ask “How can I live in the moment?” And “how can I be Now”. But then I attended drama school.
Yup, drama school.
When I attended drama school several years ago, and during my time as a professional actor, our group would frequently use mimicking exercises in order to make us work on impulse, to take control of ourselves away from our thoughts (by mimicking someone else’s actions) and to live in the moment.
Physical movements are one of the main ways in which people feel self conscious. No other place illustrates this more than the dance floor.
Likely we all know what it’s like to feel awkward standing on a dance floor. “I look like a fool,” we think. “How am I supposed to move my arms?” “ Why are people looking at me?”
In reality, its very unlikely that people are actually looking at us when we’re dancing, or that they really care what we look like dancing. Unless we are either extremely attractive or really, really, really bad dancers, the odds are that ninety-nine percent of people on the dance floor are too busy worrying about what they themselves look like to care about anyone else. And the other 1% are those with a healthy degree of mindfulness, who are aware of how other people are dancing but in a non-judgmental, accepting way. And to a large degree we all recognise this face, yet we still get nervous.
One of the easiest and most effective ways to distance ourselves from those feelings of insecurities is to pay less attention to how we ourselves are moving and a lot more attention to how other people are moving, and the best way to do that is by mimicking.
Of course, the average person is going to feel more than a little awkward if you stand in front of them mimicking their every move. That’s why this exercise should be done at home.
Mimicking Exercise for Letting Go & Living in the Moment
This exercise is extremely simple and a lot of fun. Essentially, all we need to do is to put a DVD in the player and begin to watch a scene in slow motion. The best scenes to use here are ones that include a range of physical movements. You could use a dance scene, a fighting scene or any other scene with movements.
Choose the character / person in the movie who you will be mimicking an begin by focussing on one part of their body. This could be either leg, an arm, just a shoulder, or they’re face.
Pay very close attention to this part of the person’s body and simply copy their movements as accurately as you can. As you do this, you will begin to feel as though your movements are being controlled not by your thoughts but by the other person. This is fantastic as it not only takes control away from our thoughts, helping us to let go, but it makes us feel more closely connected to the other person too and helps us to live in the moment (by connecting our actions to something outside ourselves).
Once you begin to feel comfortable mimicking this one body part, extent the area you are mimicking. So, if you were copying the person’s right leg, include their left leg too, or if you were copying their face, now include their shoulders, neck and head.
Continue in this way until you are mimicking their whole body, and once you get comfortable with this, increase the playback speed on the DVD until it is playing at the normal rate.
But how does mimicking help in real life?
Having done this exercise, you will now recognise that you can quite quickly relax by focussing on something outside of yourself and by mimicking someone else’s movements. The next time you are on the dance floor and feeling self-conscious, allow yourself to copy some small part of another person’s movement. You may, for instance, mimicking another dancer’s shoulder and in doing so you will help yourself to relax, to let go, and to live in the moment. Just make sure you don’t constantly stare at the other person otherwise you’ll likely offend them!
I hope this answers the question “How can I live in the moment’ and “How to be now?” As always, if you have any ideas to share, please leave a comment. Thanks.