The Perfect Present: Using Your Five Senses to Live in the Moment
“Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift – that is why we call it the present.” Author unknown
How much of your life is lost either dwelling on the past or worrying about the future? When your thoughts are imprisoned by the past or fearful of the future, you can miss out on one of life’s greatest gifts: that which is happening today and indeed this very moment.
The reality is that when you are yearning for yesterday and either tempted or terrified by tomorrow, your ability to move forward will be confined by your inability to make the most of today. The key to throwing off your shackles is to put your effort into the present moment. Not only will you reap the rewards of enjoying a new awareness of everything around you, but also you will have a healthy and positive place from which to move forward in a constructive and fulfilling way.
Utilizing the five senses, here a few simple examples of how you can practice “being present” or “living in the moment”: 1. Touch As you go about your daily activities, be mindful of the texture, temperature and feel of things. Start with your clothing. Are you wearing a pressed cotton shirt, velour jogging suit or rugged denim jeans? What about your work environment? Is your desk made of slick, smooth laminate or rough wood? 2. Taste When you eat your meals today, chew slowly and savor each bite. What different flavors do you encounter? What feelings, associations and memories arise from the various tastes? Do you have enough variety or are the tastes almost bland because of their familiarity? Which taste is your favorite one of today? 3. See Actively notice things in your environment. As you drive to work or are out on errands, do you see anything new? Perhaps a new shop has opened or flowers are in bloom along the highway. Investigate the range of colors. Instead of thinking that something is “blue”, narrow it down. Is it a deep navy blue or a tropical turquoise? 4. Smell Aside from the obvious things you normally smell like your food or the perfume/cologne you wear, try to observe the scent of other things. And no, not just the roses! If you are mowing the lawn, really take in the scent of the fresh cut grass or the earthy soil. If you are washing the dishes, notice the smell of the dishwashing liquid. Do you like it or is it time for something different? 5. Hear When you are interacting with others today, give them your undivided attention: don’t interrupt and listen attentively before you speak. Listen also to the background noise of your life. Can you hear birdsong? How many types can you make out? When you step outside, do you hear the children playing next door or the dog barking down the street? How do you feel when you hear these sounds? What is the most pleasant sound of the day?
Awareness of the present moment will make you feel in control of your life. Of course, learning from our mistakes, reminiscing over the past or planning for the future all have their places but after you’ve done so, let these thoughts go. Today is what really matters, irrespective of how imperfect it might seem and it is your attitude towards today which counts. You may have little control over things today but one thing is certain. you can choose and control your attitude towards today.
Enjoy the present moment then without dwelling on earlier or later, yesterday or tomorrow, past or future. Be mindful of the gathering storm of your thoughts if they carry you away to another time frame under a cloud of pessimism. Quell the storm by reining in your mind and your actions back to the “perfect present” and the world will open up to you with all of today’s wonderful opportunities.
Copyright 2005 Vivian Banta