“Be here now.” – Ram Dass
“When you take your attention into the present moment, a certain alertness arises. You become more conscious of what’s around you, but also, strangely, a sense of presence that is both within and without.” – Eckhart Tolle
Do you have thirty seconds for an exercise that can change how you experience life?
I’ve been playing a game lately that’s brought greater awareness and joy into everything I do. It’s a pretty simple game, and it goes something like this.
Where Am I?
Check in: Where is my attention in this moment? Can I be fully present, right now?
Pause. Take a deep breath. Feel the air flowing through your nose and throat and deep into your stomach. Feel the ground beneath your feet, and the temperature of your skin.
Bring your awareness to how you’re sitting, or standing.
Check in: Am I hunched over, or is my spine straight? Are my shoulders high and tight, or relaxed and loose? Is my body closed and guarded, or open and expansive? Are my wrists, legs, ankles, or fingers crossed? Can I open them up?
Increase the length between your tailbone and the top of your head, while at the same time relaxing the muscles in your arms and legs. Breathe.
Check in: What emotions am I feeling, and where am I feeling them? Is my face tense or relaxed? Am I smiling? Can I? How’s my breathing? Is the air still flowing deep into my body?
Be Here Now
The only thing we ever truly control is our attention. Notice where yours is, and consciously direct it to be here, now.
Check in: Where am I? Where is my mind? Can I bring it to this moment? How is my breathing? Can I relax my shoulders and extend my spine?
Welcome to your body, the physical manifestation of your being.
Over the next few days and weeks, pay attention to that body. Send (or resend) this post to yourself. Save it. Read it again tonight, or tomorrow morning. Set a timer to remind you to check in with your attention, or make a mental note to do it every time you look at your watch or phone.
Breathe. Smile. Relax. Laugh. Expand.
Check in: Where is my attention? How am I breathing? How am I carrying my body?
Don’t worry about the details – there’s no wrong way to play the game. Just play it, and play it often. Yesterday I did it at a bar, on a train, and while watching baseball – several times – because hey, my mind wanders, I start to slouch, and my shoulders roll forward.
Check in: Can I be here, now?
“The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.” – Abraham Maslow