While I was jumping on the trampoline with my kids this weekend, ages 4 and 2, I had a revelation: Kids naturally live in the moment. There was no to-do list running through their heads or that rushed feeling you get when you’re running five minutes late (story of my life). My kiddos were too busy grinning from ear to ear as they bounced as high as their little legs would take them to worry about anything else. They were too busy living in the moment!
We got off the trampoline and I did what most moms do: multitask. I made dinner while loading the dish washer while checking my email while hopping on one foot. Needless to say, living in the moment doesn’t come naturally to me. Still, I know I need to savor more moments rather than mentally skipping over them. So, I went to yogi extraordinaire Jenn Chiarelli. She’s a ridiculously good teacher with an uncanny knack for breaking down difficult yoga postures and arm balances into easily digestible tidbits—and I was hoping she could do the same for my multitasking monkey mind. Here are Jenn’s “be present” words of wisdom…
1. Slow down. Everyone is in a rush these days. In order to live in the present moment we need to slow ourselves down, from our driving, eating, our speech, to our thoughts. In order to experience the present we just need to consciously slow down. The next time you’re chatting with a friend, notice if you take breathes in between your thoughts. Do you cut your friend off or do you stop and listen? This is an important way to do some self study. In yoga this self study or self reflection is called svadhyaya. It’s the 4th Niyama of the Patanjali’s 8 Limbs of Yoga.
2. Get out and enjoy nature. A way to slow down and become more highly aware is to get outside. Enjoy a long walk and listen to the sounds that surround you: the birds, the wind, a dog barking in the distance. Observe what you smell: the flowers, the crisp fall air. Notice what you feel externally (the sun on your skin), and internally (are you happy, sad, calm, uneasy?). Observe your feelings. Connect with the rhythm of nature and notice that you are a part of it all.
3. Breathe. Most of the time our breath is completely involuntary, however, in yoga we teach conscious breathing. This will immediately slow you down and shift you into presence. Take a long inhalation, filling your lower belly first, then your middle belly, and finally your upper chest and clavicle. Then slowly exhale from the upper chest, then middle belly, and finally your lower belly. Draw your navel in to expel all the stale air out. Practice this a few rounds. This simple yogic breathing exercise is called 3 part breathe or Dirgha Pranayama. When you’re stressed or overwhelmed, this very simple breathing technique will calm you and bring you to a peaceful state of being.
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