Learning to be present and calm

This post was written by guest blogger Audrea Laffely.

“The living moment is everything.” – D.H. Lawrence

Life is a stressful beast sometimes. We all get pulled in a million directions – family, work, friends, and commitments – and these things stretch us thin. It is often hard to find the time to relax and be present in the moment we are in. I don’t know about you, but I often find myself thinking about the past or what is coming next rather than the present moment. But what I have come to realize is that this behavior is pointless. You can’t change what has happened and there is no point in worrying about what hasn’t happened yet. The best you can do for yourself and everyone around you is to remain calm and present in the current moment you are in.

This takes practice and is not something that comes easily. Over the past year, I have been working on my meditation practice to help hone the skills needed to be present. It started with a trip to Kripalu in the Berkshires where I took a meditation class. During that class I really struggled, constantly moving out of my mind to focus on something that was preoccupying my brain. I kept opening my eyes and I kept wondering when the class would be over. Needless to say it was not a successful first attempt.

Upon returning home I challenged myself to begin a meditation practice. So here’s what I did:

  • Set a goal: I decided to set the goal for 10 minutes a day, three days a week.
  • Learned from guidance: I found two great apps that I put on my phone – Calm and Insight Timer. Both have great teachers, short meditations and are free.
  • Scheduled the time in my calendar: I made meditation a priority and scheduled the time in my calendar like a meeting or a workout
  • Used power in numbers: I connected with a few friends that did meditation and used them as support to keep motivated

After about a month, I started to notice a difference in how I could shift my attention back when it lost focus. After about three months, I noticed how I could calm myself down in stressful situations. After about six months, I was hooked and still am. My next mediation goal (which I invite you to join me in) is to do Sharon Salzburg’s 28-day challenge on Lovingkindess meditation. I saw her speak at another recent trip to Kripalu and really liked her everyday approach to the ancient practice.

Now I know, you don’t need another thing to add to the to-do list, but trust me, it is worth it. It helps cultivate a steady, unconditional sense of connection to the present moment. It helps calm down the mind and make you stop to enjoy the place you are in. It helps by giving you a moment of self-care that everyone needs. Start slow using an app or YouTube videos, set some time on your calendar and then make it a priority. Your body and mind and everyone around you will thank you.

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