Is it possible to train the brain to ‘live in the moment’?
But realistically your brain will wander when you are tired, sick or stressed and may go places that you do not want it to. But that’s okay… you catch your thoughts, and then ask yourself 2 questions:
- Is what I am telling myself really true? and
- Is this thought helping or hurting me in the moment.
When, I was sick and sitting in the salt-box house in Bonavista, Newfoundland with cooler temperatures outside and the fog rolling in, my mind started drifting to thoughts of the past.
I was clearly not in the present and appreciating the century home I was in and the handmade touches in the house, e.g., quilts on the bed and the views out the window of fields down to the ocean.
Our brains are wonderful tools, but they like to play tricks on our thinking and how we feel (emotions) about ourselves and the people we care about.
All of this distracts us from being present and ‘being in the moment’.
Using Your Five Senses to be Present in the Moment
If you remember from May’s blog, I had described a method of being in tune with your five senses to help you to be present in the moment.
One way to stay more in the present is to be more aware of your surroundings by engaging your senses:
- Touching, and
Being Outside and Exerting Physical Effort Can Help You to Be Present
For me, the easiest time I had in being fully present was when I was cycling in PEI. I was outside, exerting energy and experiencing new places. When your senses are engaged and you have to focus your attention to cycle up the next hill you feel so alive.
I think seeing is one of the more powerful senses in taking in information. I was seeing the red soil in the open farmlands, the century homes and the ocean along the coast.
The weather alternated between sunny and cloudy days with the wind either blowing against us or giving us a tailwind at our backs. I felt the sun on my face, or some days the brisk wind all over.
In the forest I heard the birds singing and the rustle of the leaves. By the coast I heard the fog horn of the lighthouse and the lapping of the water. I also had the pleasure to attend a kitchen party, a social where people come over and music is played. I listened to sea shanties and stories of longing for the rock (Newfoundland).
I was smelling the sea air and the fragrances of nature – manure on the fields getting reading for seeding or the spring flowers coming into bloom.
And tasting was a delight from lobster poutine (I absolutely loved this) to PEI mussels (very large and delicious).
How Losing a Sense Can Affect Your Other Senses
I didn’t realize how much your sense of smell provides context for the other senses. I came down with COVID on the last part of my trip out to the east coast and lost my sense of smell for a few days. This loss was quite startling, as it made eating meals blander and being outside less vibrant.
For example, I could hear and see lawns being mowed, but I could not smell the fragrance of newly cut grass. This sense is often in the background of your other senses, but when it is gone you really miss it!
So, what did I learn about this experiment of being more aware of my senses and being in the moment?
For me, it has become quite apparent that as I age being outside either walking, biking or running is really important to my overall well-being. I have come to appreciate the wonder of nature more and more.
I love going on my adventures with ‘A’, but if there are work commitments and I am grounded in Calgary, I need to have time each day where I am outside doing some activity.
What is it for you? What brings awareness to your senses and helps you to be in the moment? And feel good about being alive?
There is no one path, but I think it is helpful to reflect upon what gives us energy and an appreciation for this life we lead.
Quiz: Being In the Present Moment
For those that like quizzes, I found this quiz on ‘how present are you?’
Well, that’s a wrap for May’s experiment (which went into June). My brain is still a little foggy from COVID, so that’s all I have for now.
I hope you are well and if you have the time, I would love hearing how you are doing.
As always, live well, and enjoy.