Can you think of a time when you felt really content and at peace? My guess is, when you were feeling this way, it’s likely you were really ‘in the moment’, not worrying about what was going to happen next or ruminating about what had gone on earlier that day. You were just simply and effortlessly present.
I’m sure most of us would agree that it would be nice to experience states of contentment, peace and happiness more regularly in our lives. However, we often think that to cultivate these enjoyable feelings we need to control all the external conditions in our life so that everything is ‘just so’. We might need the kids to be asleep, you might need a glass of wine or a special cup of tea or to be on the couch with a good book, out in the garden or even away somewhere special like the coast, or the bush. The only trouble with this approach is that these external conditions happen so rarely compared to the rest of our days. We need more than the occasional dose of peace in order to feel refreshed and recharged.
What if there was a way that you could access states of contentment and peace almost regardless of what was happening at the time? Well you can. It starts with finding a way back into being in the moment.
Imagine that your mind has tentacles that extend out beyond your body and these tentacles spread out a long way forwards into the future and way back into the past. Being in the moment simply means you pull these tentacles all the way back in so that your attention returns to the things that are actually happening around you right now. You might look around you and notice five interesting things you can see or five different sounds you can hear or noticing the rise and fall of your breath five times. Bringing your attention to the present moment is a key tool of mindfulness and a sure-fire method for coming back to your senses, literally!
Like anything worth doing, it takes a bit of practice to re-train your mind but it’s thoroughly worth it. Try setting a timer on your watch or your computer to prompt you to ‘come back to your senses’ once an hour. Give it a go and I’m sure you’ll notice that at the end of the day you’ll feel calmer and more at ease. In time, that sense of calmness will grow into more frequent experiences of peace and contentment regardless of the external circumstances.