One of my New Year’s resolutions is to be more present. Yes, I know it’s a concept that’s thrown around a lot, often with pretentious “air quotes,” but what I mean is this: instead of multitasking or mentally composing my to-do list in the throws of a conversation (yes, I actually do this), I vow to ignore the constant lure of email… and stop mindlessly eating chocolate chips in front of the TV… and to practice being instead of doing. Easier said than done, I know, but being more present has been linked with less stress, increased life span and improved wellness, 3 very convincing reasons. To help us all be more in the “stop and smell the roses” frame of mind, I went to Nancy Ferraro, a yoga instructor at Metta and Urban Yoga. Nancy’s been practicing yoga since 2006 (it was love at first vinyasa), and not only teaches being present, she practices it. Read on for Nancy’s be-present tips…
Being present is something people in the fitness and wellness community are talking about, but what does it mean and how does one attain it?
As a yoga instructor, the first thing I call my students to do is to come into the present moment. I ask them to come onto their mats and leave everything else outside the studio doors.
Physically, everyone is already on their mats. Technically, they have left everything else in their lockers…even their shoes! Hence, the call to be present is to the mind, as being present is a state of mind. If we are thinking about where we’ve been or where we’re going, we are not in the present moment. But we cannot be on our yoga mats all the time, so how do we keep this “presentness” while moving thru our lives?
The breath is the key. In yoga, we call it Pranayama: bringing our attention to our breath. As we hear our breath, feel our breath and bring our thoughts specifically to our breath, our racing mind begins to slow down, we begin to leave the state of fight or flight and move into being present.
The more we practice being present, the more natural it becomes.
A good tool for training our mind to be present is meditation. Meditation is like a concentrated drop of being present. You can start with three minutes a day. Set your timer, sit down, close your eyes and just breathe. Hear your breath, feel your breath, focus on lengthening the inhale and then exhaling all the way out… you’ll be surprised how quickly three minutes goes by and how centered you feel! The next week increase your timer to five minutes and so on until you arrive at a meditation time that works for you. Remember, it takes 28 days to create a new habit… see what happens. You will become more present in your life – on and off the meditation cushion!