How to Practice Being Present
The method for being present is fairly simple, but it’s the practice that matters most.
Most people don’t learn to be present because they don’t practice, not because it’s so hard to do.
When you practice something regularly, you become good at it. It becomes more a mode of being rather than a task on your to-do or someday list.
Practice, practice, and being present will become natural.
Here’s how to do it: whatever you’re doing, right now, learn to focus completely on doing that one thing. Pay attention: to every aspect of what you’re doing, to your body, to the sensations, to your thoughts.
You will notice your thoughts, if you’re paying attention, jump to other things. That’s OK — you are not trying to force all other thoughts from your mind. But by becoming aware of that jumping around in your thoughts, you have found the tool for gently bringing yourself back to your present task. Just notice the jumping thoughts, and lovingly come back.
Do this once, then do it again. Don’t worry about how many times you must do it. Just do it now.
It can become tiring at first, if you’re not used to it. Don’t worry about that. Let yourself rest if you grow tired. Come back and practice again in a little while. It’s not meant to be exhausting — instead you should notice how your worries melt away and you enjoy your present task much more.
Be joyful in whatever you’re doing, grateful that you’re able to do that task, and fully appreciate every little movement and tactile sensation of the task. You’ll learn that anything can be an amazing experience, anything can be a miracle.
Practice throughout your day, every day. Little “mindfulness bells” are useful to remind you to come back to the present. Thich Nhat Hanh once recommended that stoplights be your mindfulness bell as you drive. You can find mindfulness bells everywhere: your child’s voice, your co-workers appearing before you, a regular event on your computer, the noise of traffic.