Tips and Tricks to Living in the Present

In my last article, What Time Taught Me About Living in the Present, I touched on the concept that time is an illusion and we have the choice to live in the past, future, or present. Being able to live in the present is a lot easier said than done, so I wanted to share a couple ways I stay present that can be applied to sports and day to day life.

But in order to understand what being “present” means, we need to understand the importance of the past.

The mind relies on one thing to predict what’s to come, the past. The thoughts of: what has been, what could have been, what you thought happened vs. what actually did happen. Our bodies store negative emotions and when our brain sends out the message that we are under stress, it triggers those emotions, memories, and pain from the past.

These traumatic perceptions are stored in our subconscious and causes a maladaptive stress reaction which means that the mind and body are reacting based on past experiences rather than reacting in the present.

90% of all pain we experience is from trapped negative emotions. The most pressing being fear. Whether is the fear of; not being good enough, being a failure, not hitting a certain goal, or just the fear of tomorrow, our bodies hold those negative feelings and it directly impacts us in a multitude of ways.

Being present means creating awareness. Whether internally or externally, it’s about paying attention to what’s going on without attempting to change anything.

So that being said, here are some of my tips and tricks on how to stay present:

1.    Figure out what you are afraid of

Start by putting your hand on your heart (to be present) and stare at something directly in front of you. When you have focused your attention on the moment, ask yourself, “What am I afraid of?” or “If I wasn’t afraid I would….” Say the answer out loud so you can hear it. Immediately bring your focus back to your hand on your heart and what is in front of you and keep asking those questions over and over. Those hidden fears will eventually come out and it will help you understand yourself better.

2.    Where you place your attention is where you place your energy

Your thoughts become your reality! If you are feeling anxious, depressed, or any other negative emotion, slow down. Take a moment to check in with yourself and identify the moment you’re in. Take a deep breath and bring your attention to what is happening around you. You can ask yourself whatever questions you want but I use: who am I with, what am I doing, where am I, how am I feeling, why am I feeling this way.

3.    Create a mindfulness practice

Take time out of your of your day, every day to be intentionally present. Go on a walk, do yoga, meditate, journal, listen to music.. whatever it is, do it every day. Mindfulness is something that takes patience, energy, and dedication, so it’s important to practice it daily.

4.    Get out into the sun

So simple but so important. Go on a walk or sit on a bench, all it takes is 3 minutes outside to make you feel better. Remember that you are a flower and in order to bloom you need the sun. Otherwise you die.

5.    Foods create moods

Make it a habit to regularly check in with what you are putting into your body. It really impacts both your physical and mental health. An easy way to do this is to compare the colors of your food to the rainbow. Of your food rainbow, what colors are you missing? I personally don’t eat enough fruit, so I make sure I complete my rainbow with fruit of the colors that I’m slacking on.

6.    Practice gratitude

When we can embrace the pain, heartbreaks, and setbacks with gratitude, that’s where true growth happens. Instead of “wow that practice sucked I’m in so much pain” switch it to “wow that practice was really hard and my body is in a lot of pain right now, but I know it’s going to make me better.”

Change the way you say things and how you think will also change. By practicing gratitude, you are creating awareness and staying present in your body.

At the end of the day, you are the common denominator of your life. The only thing in your control is you actions.  So make sure that your focus is on your growth. A tree is only as strong as its roots.