With our cell phones by our side almost 24/7, it’s hard not to let our minds wander elsewhere.
It’s difficult not to instinctively reach for your phone in your pocket once it starts to vibrate and quickly read the newest text message someone sent you. It’s hard to sit in class, maintaining your focus on the professor, when you’re thinking about the lengthy to-do list sitting on your desk at home. Not only that, but it’s difficult to focus on your homework in the library when your hands are just itching to check your Instagram feed to see what you missed.
Overall, we used to live in a world where “BRB” was necessary because we couldn’t carry the large, desktop computer around with us. Now, we have these devices on us constantly and “BRB” is practically nonexistent. So how, if at all, is it possible for us to take that break? How can we possibly learn to live in the moment with the endless stream of notifications?
I’ve recently begun practicing yoga at least once, sometimes twice, a day. One of the mantras consistently repeated during the practice is “be present” and at first, I had no idea what that term even meant. Yet within the next few days, I found myself trying to be more “present” in my everyday life. And the benefits of it have truly been amazing within just the first week. Here are a few tips that I've used in order to become more present.
- When you’re completing a task, truly focus on that task. Try not to think about the text messages waiting for you.
One of the biggest struggles I endured when starting yoga was genuinely focusing on my breathing. I found myself wondering when the practice would be over, how many text messages I had and if anything happened while I was practicing. However, this struggle extends beyond the practice of yoga.
Whenever I’m reading a chapter in my textbook, I found myself quickly reaching for my phone whenever it lit up. Not only would it take even longer for me to finish a chapter by doing this, but my mind would constantly be distracted during the whole assignment. When I’m sitting in class, I find small sighs leaving my lips—my mind focusing on how much work I have to complete when this lecture is over.
Yet we shouldn’t be focused on that.
We shouldn’t focus on what lies ahead. We simply have to narrow our focus on the task at hand, whatever that may be. Whether it’s your breathing (if you practice yoga!), your homework, your lecture. Take the time to fully be in that moment—even if it doesn’t seem like the most thrilling moment of your life.
2. Try to step away from your social media feeds for a few hours—even if it’s only a few times a week.
Let’s face it, not every part of our lives has to be documented on your Snapchat and Instagram story. Yes, it doesn’t hurt to document the moments in our lives we never want to forget, but we shouldn’t let it consume us, either. We shouldn’t spend the entire concert filming and upload it to our Snapchat stories. We should simply take a few pictures, put our phones away and simply enjoy being in the moment.
Over the past few weeks, I’ve tried to restrict the number of times I check my social media feeds—doing my best to only go through them in the morning and evening. And I’ll be the first to admit that it isn’t easy, but it gets easier with time.
It’s difficult to just simply cut out scrolling through social media in between classes every single day. While I still try to make the effort to avoid it, it’s just simply not possible some days. So try to take a few days out of the week to ease yourself into it—you’d be surprised at just how rewarding it can be.
3. Try to open your heart to be open-minded and have a positive outlook.
When going throughout our days, we can be surprised by just how negative we can be. Perhaps you’re having a bad day and it seems as though nothing is going your way or you just did bad on an exam you studied so hard for.
Just try to take a minute to breathe and don’t focus on thinking about what you did wrong. Just stay present and continue on.
When you’re stuck in traffic on a road trip, just simply take a deep breath and turn the radio up a bit more. Put on your favorite song and enjoy the extra minutes the world gave you to have more time to yourself or with the person next to you.
The most important mantra you can take away from this piece is this—you are exactly where you need to be right now. So focus on where you are right now, whether it’s in the library, on the beach, with friends and family, or just laying in your bedroom. And be present. Because you’d be surprised by the little things you miss out on when you aren’t.