I just recently started a new job in Soho and have been transitioning into a new apartment with new people everywhere and new expectations. I noticed I am always thinking three steps ahead:
What will I eat for dinner?
Who am I seeing after work?
Where will I be in five years?
I find it difficult to pull myself into each moment in the present because there is so much newness surrounding me. The unfamiliarity of life makes me feel out of control which then leads to overthinking everything I say and do. Time seems to slip by so fast because I am so preoccupied by the future that I don’t even notice what is happening in the moment. This is common with perfectionists and those who always have to have everything just so. Let me tell you, this is the most exhausting way to live. Now that I work for a company that endorses the philosophy of wellness and optimal living, I’ve noticed I tend to overlook these habits everyday.
I’ve accumulated a list of things I do on a daily basis to become mindful of the present and make time slow down a bit. This board on Pinterest will soothe your mind and pull you back down to Earth.
Immerse Yourself in Literature
Lately, I’ve been reading through books so quickly I’ve lost track of how many I’ve been reading. From travel essays to Andrè Aciman novels, I’ve determined that getting lost in another world is sometimes the best way to meditate in the moment and forget about all the things you have to do that day. Choose quality literature with intense visuals and immersive character dialogue. I’m currently reading:
Enigma Variations by Andrè Aciman
The Wild Things by Dave Eggers
Lose Yourself in Conversation
We tend to overlook opportunities to ask someone about their day or the necklace they’re wearing. Everyday, we can reach out to someone and start a conversation that will pull us into the present. Don’t ask someone how they are doing and then start thinking in your head, “What should I order? What message did I just get? Is my phone buzzing?” as we do when we have conversations sometimes. This time, pay attention. Listen. Engage. Lose yourself in this connection with someone and use it as an opportunity to pull away from the chaos.
To be completely transparent, most of my friends are people that I randomly reached out to at a coffee shop or online. I’ve found that looking around and paying attention to others rather than being preoccupied by my own life opens my mind up to the possibility of new relationships.
Whether you’re a musician, artist, or overall creative, pay attention to a project for a couple of hours and engage in an activity that pulls you away from all of the busyness and productivity. When you create something, you fully engage the right side of your brain as you improvise on the project. After you complete it, it will offer a new perspective on the day and offer and sense of accomplishment that will make you feel rejuvenated. Turn off your phone for a couple of hours and let your mind run free in the creative process.
In my own experience, drawing is the most mindful form of art. Drawing from life makes you observe every detail of someone’s face and essence in order to replicate it in the drawing. This is the highest form of mindfulness and a great way to embrace your creative side while observing and thinking outside of yourself.
Study Something Challenging
Learning is something that occurs on the left side of your brain and fully engages your mind. In order to take in new information and retain it, you must meditate away from the chaos of your life to focus on the information you are studying. This also humbles us, knowing we can always learn something new. It will give you a new appreciation for the present moment as you expand your horizons and allow your mind to work. Personally, I study Greek everyday. I use the conversation tip above and the study tip by engaging in conversation with teachers in Athens and Cyprus as they also educate me on the language. This pulls me out of my perfectionistic way of life. The key to success in learning something challenging is to embrace your mistakes and allow yourself to grow at your own pace.
The overall conclusion of this article is to realize that the most beautiful way to live is to notice and observe the present. Take a picture of the light through your window in the evening, notice how nice your coworker looks today, and point out some things that you love about life not in the past but right now, in the present.