I once spent a weekend at a Buddhist retreat, where the theme was “Being Present.” It was a wonderful time and an awakening experience. I knew the importance of being here now. My life was extremely busy, and my mind was in the past, thinking about something I did wrong (and replaying the moment over and over), or it was focused on the future (obsessing about something that had not yet happened and might never happen). I was rarely in the moment…in the present.
While focusing on the things I was doing in the present…at that moment at the retreat…helped me become more aware, and helped me bring my focus back to that moment.
One of the things we practiced Mindfulness on was eating; focusing 100% on chewing the food in my mouth: tasting it, feeling the texture, chewing each mouthful at least 200 times before swallowing it. Each time my mind drifted, I’d bring it back to what I was doing in the moment. We practiced this with breathing and walking, as well, among other things. I couldn’t believe how hard it was for me to practice the present while walking. I felt each muscle I used while I slowly put one foot in front of the other.
This really helped me to be more present in situations such as conversations, being in relationships, working on projects, etc. I still practicing being present while driving. It is so easy to be distracted while driving with billboards, signs, and, now, cell phones.
What practices or techniques do you use to keep the distractions at bay, so that you can remain in the present?