How to Stay Present This Summer
Mindfulness Professor and Creator of Mindfulness Meditation for Stress Reduction, John Kabat-Zinn puts it so nicely, “If we hope to go anywhere or develop ourselves in any way we can only step from where we are standing. If we don’t know where we are standing we may only go in circles.”
Ah, finally summer is here. My favorite season of the year. The weather is warmer, the air is fresh, the days are longer and brighter. Everyone seems to be, well, more uplifted and full of sunshine.
From long trial hikes up north, to cottage swims, camp fires and roasted marshmallows, nothing beats the true happiness and joy that summer brings. Our spirit is awakened from hibernation and our calendars fill up quickly with exciting social events such as family barbeques, birthdays, bridal/ baby showers, weddings, and the list goes on. Before we know it the whole season has passed by in a blink of an eye and we may not even have been awake for most of it.
The practice of Mindfulness teaches us to be present from each moment to moment with as littler judgment as possible. We worry less about the past and we let go of wanting to control the future. The more aware we become the more we notice things that we may not have noticed before!
Here are some ways you can practice Mindfulness during the busy summer months:
1) DO ONE THING AT A TIME: We love to multi-task! On one hand multi-tasking makes our TO DO LIST smaller, but on the other hand we can become overwhelmed and stressed when piling things on top of each other. When you are cooking dinner, just cook dinner. When you are doing laundry, just to laundry. Do one thing at a time not rushed and deliberately with intention and attention. Also try putting space in between tasks before moving on.
2) SPEND AT LEAST 5 MINUTES A DAY DOING NOTHING: Seems easy right? This can be very challenging for most of us. Try sitting in silence. Take time outs for yourself and become aware of your senses; sight (if you chose to keep your eyes open), sound, smell, taste, breath and/or bodily sensation. Practicing this way of non-doing will help to invoke a sense of presence and calmness. All the doing later becomes effortless.
3) STOP WORRYING ABOUT THE FUTURE: Its hard to be in the present moment if we are worried about what’s yet to come or what we don’t have control over. Become more aware of your thinking and use any of your senses to ground you back to the present moment. It’s okay for the mind to wonder; recognize that it’s happening and do your best to bring it back to what’s occurring right in front of you. There is nothing more rich than the present moment.
4) WHEN YOU ARE SOCIALIZING, REALLY LISTEN: Often times when we have more than one event to go to in a day it can be difficult to be fully present without looking at the time or rushing conversation. We get into a discussion with someone and all we can think of is where or what we have to do next. Focus on really listening and really enjoying getting to know or reconnecting with that person in front of you.
5) LIVE SLOWLY AND SAVOUR YOUR LIFE: Just as you would savour your favorite summer dish by eating it slowly, try doing the same with everything in your life this way. Slow down and savour each and every moment of your day. Enjoy and celebrate the smallest pleasures in your life. Keep practicing and when you get frustrated, breath in and out your nose naturally; tapping into feelings that pull you back to the present moment. Go easy on yourself and have no expectations.
As John Kabat-Zinn would say, “We take care of the future best by taking care of the present now.”
It is my hope that your summer is filled with an abundance of love, laughter, and lots of fun-filled moment to moment memories and experiences.