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Instant Mindfulness: The 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 Trick To Be Here Now

A right-now exercise to cultivate mindfulness — in one minute or less, to boot.

How many places have you been today? Even if you haven’t left the house yet and physically been anywhere?

Whether you had a lazy day in or a busy day out, one thing is for certain: We all travel far and wide each and every day in our minds. We hang out in the past, thinking about yesterday, last year, that niggling mistake or the one who got away. We visit the future (sometimes the moment we wake up) as we plan, anticipate, expect and dream.

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The ability to float to the past and future can be a wonderful way for us to learn from our past, embrace our memories, and to plan, to organize and set goals. Oftentimes this wandering of the mind, however, isn’t coming from a conscious decision.

We are very efficient at being on auto-pilot, at letting our minds float about and drift along in a current that can sometimes get so strong, we get swept totally away from the present and forget where we are, what we are doing, and even who we are with.

We can be in any space, and not be there. Just as you can revisit the warm, comforting feeling of the last hug of a beloved, and forget about the feeling of the chair you are sitting on or the coolness of the breeze on your skin in that moment.

Why not just let our mind do its thing?

Daydreaming can be nice. Sometimes even your most inspired ideas have come out of this creative space. Planning is also necessary to live as functional human beings. It’s when we get taken away to past regrets, to traumas and experiences that foster feelings of anger, sadness and even depression that we get further taken away from peace. Same goes with future anticipations, which can result in anxiety and stress about unknown outcomes. Similarly, expectations can also result in feeling discontent and disappointed with reality as we judge ourselves, others and our lives from an imagined future.

When we come to presence, it’s from this space that anxieties, regrets and holding on to the past or future dissolves. We come to a clearer space, we feel more grounded, content and at peace. We can notice our thoughts and feelings as they arise, and, rather than trying to move away from them, we can notice, feel, and allow them to pass. It is from presence that we can actively create our experiences. We are more present with people, and our own lives.

“Be here now.”

…It’s a sweet phrase. Often sported on yoga mats, journals, T-shirts, and, of course, in many quotes shared all over social media. Really though, when you feel into these words, and start to live by them, they are transformative. The idea of being where you are can sound confusing. Aren’t we already here? Well, your body is, for sure. Though as mentioned above, your mind can be in a completely different place.

How can we come back to now?

The most accessible way for anyone (no meditation or yoga experience necessary) to come back to presence and the now is to do so through mindfulness. Mindfulness is the non-judgmental awareness of the present moment. It is observing and engaging with what you are doing, as you are doing it,  whether it is yoga, or sitting, or eating or even tooth brushing.

We access the engagement of the present moment through our senses: touch, taste, smell, hear, sight. So, using our physical form, we bring our minds into our bodies. And as our bodies are already here, where they are, our mind becomes here, too.

So without further ado: Here is the simple 5, 4, 3, 2, 1 trick to be present, at any moment.

  • 5 things to see: Look around your space, list five things you can see right now. Notice their color, size and textures.
  • 4 things to feel: Close your eyes and notice the touch of four things. The air, maybe, or your seat, clothes on skin. Etcetera.
  • 3 things to hear: Again, with eyes closed, hone into three different sounds, close or far away, in your environment.
  • 2 things to smell: This can be subtle or strong, depending on your space. The smell of rain, of your hair, clothes, or lingering food in the air.
  • 1 thing to taste: There’s always a taste we can notice. Maybe it is left over from your breakfast, or toothpaste, or even the taste of your own mouth.

You can do this trick anywhere, at any time. Try it when you first wake up, or when you transition from work to home, or before eating a meal. You will feel yourself drop into a place of calm, peaceful presence as you do. Or, if you are in a busy or normally stressful environment, you will connect to the movement and flow of life, rather than getting carried away with feelings and thoughts of anxieties or stress.

Now you really are here, now. Enjoy!

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