Simple steps to help develop a “Now Mindset”

“Forever is composed of nows.” ― Emily Dickinson

One of the biggest questions people ask about Mindfulness, is all around being the in “now”. What on earth is it about? What does it mean and why even think about it?

Practicing Mindfulness helps you to focus on being present in the now. Present moment awareness brings calm, peace and sanity to your life. It exposes your ego and puts you in touch with your true self. It helps you be more connected to both yourself and also to everyone around you.

The present moment is all there ever is. Still, most people ignore it, imagining the future or the past, stuck in their thinking minds.

The present moment is so simple. Its simplicity is masked by the egoic mind – wanting to get to some imaginary point in the future (as if the future will bring more happiness than anything could now), or reliving the past (as if this is more important than now). So many of our problems, traumas, anxieties, fears etc. are all based in our minds. Dwelling in the past, or conditioned by the past and then negatively anticipating “the future”.

Time exists only in the mind. It keeps you from the conscious presence that is who you already are, only available within the present moment.

So how can you become more aware? It does take some time, so be prepared to take a few minutes out of your day to try one of the following:

  • Be aware of what you can see, hear, smell, feel. Take a moment to really concentrate on looking at an object or listen to the sounds going on around you. Perhaps sit outside and feel the breeze on your skin or the smells in the air around you.
  • Be aware of your breath flowing gently in and out of your body. The breathing exercise is one of the fundamentals of Mindfulness practice. For a blog post I wrote on the breath practice, go to: https://martinsummerhayes.com/2016/04/20/the-mindfulness-tool-the-breath/
  • Experience and feel your body from within – for example can you be aware of your legs – as if you are feeling the inside of them? This might sound strange, but try it, and you might be surprised by the results.
  • Can you hear the silence behind any noise that may be there? Listen to the background, as well as the foreground noises.
  • Be aware of space around all things you can see rather than just the things themselves? Look beyond the foreground and look to the background.
  • Finally, can you feel yourself as the awareness behind the thoughts that arise? This is probably the most difficult one to try.

 

Practicing any of these approaches on a regular basis will help put you within the present moment and somewhat out of your mind. Of course the mind may well pull you back in again with some thought, or emotional resistance may arise, but that is the challenge with the mind.

You may notice that as you stay in the present moment, you might become more aware of deeper feelings, thoughts and emotions that you were not aware of before. This is fine, and they are as they are. Allow them to be as well, do not name any emotion or thought – let them be, be the space for them, and see what happens. You may notice as you do this, a sense of peace, aliveness, awareness, however subtle or strong is arising in the background

This practice of present moment awareness and acceptance puts you in touch with what you really are, and sets you free from all the negativity you may be carrying in your mind. There is only this moment, and it is as it is.

I leave you with the following quote.

“Live in the present, remember the past, and fear not the future, for it doesn’t exist and never shall. There is only now.” ― Christopher Paolini, Eldest

Your toes are good reminders of now!

“Walk as if you are kissing the Earth with your feet.” ― Thich Nhat Hanh, Peace Is Every Step: The Path of Mindfulness in Everyday Life

Question for you.

It is funny, but how often do you think about your feet?

Go on, take a moment and try to remember the last time you really thought about those things at the end of your legs. Unless you have recently bought a pair of shoes and are wearing them in; like I did; or you have a bunion or a pain in your feet; or have gone for a long walk; it is unlikely you have spent some time thinking about them at all.

 

Now I have got your attention on your feet, I’d like to say that you can use your feet in a Mindfulness practice that helps focus you on the now. Yes, both a Mindfulness practice as well as practising being in the now. Plus it is something that is fun that you can try at home, in the office, on the train, almost anywhere….

The invitation begins by gently bringing your attention down the legs into the feet. Sensing your feet directly without looking at them. Allowing your awareness to sink into your feet and fill them from the inside to the outside. From the bones, right out to the surface of the skin. Perhaps sensing the many small bones within the feet. Maybe feeling the sensations of touch on the skin; the sensations in the soles of the feet; the sense of touch and pressure where the feet make contact with the floor. Perhaps exploring with your awareness the boundary between the feet on the floor. Next……

Can you Wiggle Your Toes
Seriously. Our toes are anomalies from the rest of our bodies, for they’re one of the movable parts of our bodies that we don’t reflexively move or incorporate into the rest of our normal movements. Our toes are just there, not moving. Rather than over-thinking this one, trust me and try the following:

  • Scrunch your toes up to make a toe fist
  • Wiggle them
  • Stretch them out
  • Focus on moving your big toes without moving the rest of them
  • Now do whatever feels right for your toes
  • Now allow your awareness to sink into your feet and fill them from the inside to the outside, perhaps sensing the sensations of touch on the skin
  • The sensations in the soles of the feet, the sense of touch and pressure where the feet make contact with the floor.
  • Perhaps exploring with your awareness the boundary between the feet on the floor.
  • Perhaps the weight of the feet on the floor
  • Finally, allow your attention move away from your feet.
  • You have been experiencing “the now”

Did you notice that you couldn’t really think about anything else while you were actively moving your toes? You might also suddenly notice other parts of your body. It can be really weird when this happens.

The act of being present is, in a sense, a meditation without meditating. With it comes a sense of stillness. For a few moments in your busy, 24*7 lives, you feel at peace. At one with yourself and the world around you.

Finally, the photo I used is of my wacky striped socks. I came across a set of weird and wonderful coloured socks, bought them and have enjoyed wearing them both at work and at home. The look on some of my colleague’s faces when they see them brings a smile to them and me. The photo is a collage of four days of sock wearing at work last week!

If you look closely, you may notice that my left ankle is larger than my right. This is the long term outcome of being run over a few years ago. I have three screws in my left ankle and have five degrees less movement; hence the swelling. Oh and sometimes it does hurt, but that is life.

I love whacky socks and please feel free to share photos of your wacky socks!

Finally, if you would like to do a more formal practice to shift out of doing mode, then try the following link:

https://www.mindful.org/a-7-minute-practice-to-shift-out-of-doing-mode/?mc_cid=0cb29957c3&mc_eid=abae5a711f

I leave you with the following quote.

“I will not let anyone walk through my mind with their dirty feet.” ― Mahatma Gandhi