Take a moment and learn to appreciate simply being here

Take a moment, slow down and think – about everything you take for granted.

Learning to value being alive

We often try to pack a lot into our day; we race around, ticking things off our to-do list so we can rest easy and relax at night.

But what if we took a moment for being rather than doing? Does it pay to slow down and focus on the present moment?

The benefits of simply 'being'
'Being present' is part of the practice known as mindfulness. It's a way to focus on what is happening 'in the now', and it can have positive effects on your mental health and wellbeing.

Studies show that practising mindfulness may aid in managing stress, anxiety and depression, and can help to make us calmer, happier humans.

"The benefits of being present are that you get to focus on the most important point in time – the present," explains Jean Hailes clinical psychologist Gillian Needleman.

"The present is the place where you are the most powerful as it is 'the now'; the 'live' moment of time. It is where opportunity resides, where choices exist and where you can focus all your senses to take in the richness of life and what you're experiencing.

"It is not the past, which can't be changed, nor is it the future, which has not yet unfolded. The present is the place of being and possibility."

As Ms Needleman explains, focusing on 'the now' also helps to still and relax a racing mind.

"It can shift the focus from your inner world – often the place of worry and anxiety – and turns your attention to the actual world around you and your interaction with it for that moment," she says.

Putting it into practice
Ms Needleman gives us three tips on how to tap into the present and fully soak up a mindful moment.

Use all your senses
When you want to become present in any given moment, use all your senses to describe what is happening around you. Observation, without judgement, is key, says Ms Needleman.

"If you are going for a walk, be present by noticing the colours, the smells, the things that are close to you, the things that are further away … what are the big things and what can only just be seen? Feel your feet connecting to the ground, the temperature of the air on your face, your arms by your sides," she says.

Concentrating on these subtle details and feelings connects you to the present moment and can also create an enriching and more enjoyable experience.

Daily deed done differently
Choose something that is a habit, perhaps something you do daily, but do it differently and allow yourself to notice the small things.

Ms Needleman provides some examples. "Brush your teeth with your left/non-dominant hand, go for a walk but walk at half your usual pace, change your stride, eat dinner in the garden instead of at the kitchen table, ride your bike to work instead of taking the train, or drive a different way home."

Many of our daily tasks are done in 'auto-pilot' mode. We are so used to doing them, so we don't tune into the task at hand. But slightly changing our perspective can open us up to a new experience, allowing us to complete the task in a new and more present light.

A mindfulness body scan
Ms Needleman reminds us that our body is always present, so it can be a useful tool to practise being present with. "Your body does not dart around into past, present and future the way your mind can," she says. "It is always there and can help bring you back to the present moment."

Play around with being mindful by noticing your body in different ways. You can start from your head and work your way down to your feet by:

  • appreciating the way your breath moves in and out of your nose or mouth
  • noticing the inside of your mouth – moving your tongue across your teeth and feeling the sensation
  • placing your hands on your chest and stomach and feeling the breath flowing in and out
  • trying to focus on the way your bones hold up your posture
  • thinking about your legs and how the muscles feel
  • wiggling your toes and noticing the feeling
  • feeling the floor beneath your feet, pressing down on the floor and noticing the sensation.

The options are endless!

Published with the permission of Jean Hailes for Women's Health.



    To make a comment, please register or login
    3rd Aug 2018
    You also need to weigh up the priorities in your life. 16 months before being eligible for the Aged Pension, I was working in a job I loved. Position got made redundant - which was bull as they replaced me with the boss's daughter's best friend who returned to the town I was living in as she could not get a job in the big city. Did my exact same job but with a different title. Oh - plus she was 38 years younger than me!
    I then accepted a job which proved to be the worst job I have EVER had, with the bully boss from hell. Nearly broke me, which believe me, is pretty hard. Was a living nightmare, till I realised if I stayed I would end up in a far worse place. So I walked out. Ruined me financially, but saved my sanity. Had to go on Newstart for a few months - now that is hell in itself, being a single and trying to survive on that.
    But I realised I would rather be happy and broke, than miserable and have some financial backing. What good is it if you are forced into an early grave, as my dr said I was sure to end up? Happiness means different things to different people, and yes, I wish I could still be working and being a bit more financially secure. But I weighed it up, and life is for living, not just existing.
    I have no regrets...
    3rd Aug 2018
    Absolutely. However, this article seems to forget that most people are not in control of their own life unless they ditch the people who are causing the problem.

    Sometimes you just can't do that no matter how many flowers are smelt or how beautiful the day - and they probably don't want to either.

    The real test is how to actually work in an environment with a bully if there is no choice or deal with day to day struggles if there is no money in the honey jar.

    Life is for the wealthy and it certainly isn't fair.
    3rd Aug 2018
    sunnyOz - you are so right. I'd rather be broke than bullied.
    3rd Aug 2018
    With all that is happening world wide, and the corruption in high places (particularly in Australia)......how can we NOT focus on the future? Not for us, but for our Grandchildren?
    3rd Aug 2018
    I agree, Poppysum. Its the people who don't manage their life, their future and their family who don't get to smell the roses at days end.
    Life is a struggle. But its worth it when all said and done.
    3rd Aug 2018
    I agree, focusing on the present AND the future is important.
    Wonder if anyone pays for such advice as provided by this psychologist!
    3rd Aug 2018
    I have increased my exercise walk by five minutes....I walk slower
    3rd Aug 2018
    I try to engage with the world, but have no idea what is going on, or what most of it is about. It's a relaxing state of mind. I meditate twice a day, morning and night, and no longer rush to get things done. I walk in nature every day. limit my screen time. Listen to music, Mess about in the garden. And have recently taken up painting and drawing again. If I'm not careful I will end up being busier than when I was working!! It feels so good not to be caught up in the mad hustle and bustle. I am fortunate to have the choice

    3rd Aug 2018
    Focussing on 'being' when your quality of life is terrible is a sure way to become even more depressed.

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