Why You Should Practice Present Moment Awareness

By Michael Dangovian

September 16, 2016

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” — Eckhart Tolle

One of the hardest things to do in this day and age is slow down. Our phones constantly distract us, there are screens everywhere begging for our attention, and life doesn’t exactly allow you to just hit the pause button.

That’s why it’s so important to develop a habit of present moment awareness.

A lot of people tend to think about life in one of two ways: History or future. We spend a lot of time thinking about things that have happened to us over the years, both good and bad, and spend almost as much time—if not more—looking forward. Plans, fears, schedules, responsibilities… the list is endless, and it is always coming directly at us.

But there’s also another way that life is happening… in fact, it’s really the ONLY way life is happening. And that’s in the moment. That’s really all we have. The past is gone, the future isn’t here yet, and so all we have is the now.

So, why is it important to practice present moment awareness?

Glad you asked.

There are a couple reasons.

1. You are Alive

One, to live at optimum health, we have to first live. And since being alive means being alive in this one and only moment, then any alternative is really going to be a chore. In this moment, you are alive. The world is real and vibrant and awe-inspiring and all around you. Every tiny atom moves within this moment. Every wave of light is pulling a million different colors from every shining thing across the universe. Everyone alive on this planet is alive inside this moment. Everything within this moment simply is.

2. You are Built for Wellness

The second reason why developing present moment awareness as a habit is such an important principle for a healthy life, is that so much of our health is dependent upon how we see the world. How we experience it. And because it is so easy to simply drift through each second of every hour of every day until we’re old and frail and wake up one morning wondering where our lives have gone… it’s vital to our very wellness to begin to understand how we are tied to the earth, and to each other, and to every molecule vibrating out its own song within its narrow arc.

A habit of present moment awareness ties you to the world around you. It also ties you to your own body. Rushing around from one thing to the next with no real mind to how your body is feeling—or what it needs—is a fantastic way to invite sickness. Instead, present moment awareness gives us insight into what’s going on inside us. That pause from our worries, regrets, fears, and feelings of being overwhelmed disappears under the weight of that one single moment, and we are lighter for it. We get a sense of ourselves. We understand what our body is feeling, how our thoughts connect, and also begin to develop an inner sense of what our bodies are telling us.

Some of those signals might be just simple pleasures. Other times, we may receive warning signs. Our bodies know what they need, and also know how to communicate those needs to us. We are only tasked to listen, and then respond.

Why We Don’t Like the Moment

I think a lot of us tend to avoid spending time mindfully within our moments because we’re afraid. Afraid that there might be something wrong. Afraid that an old buried fear might rear its ugly head and ruin our day.

Or, we’re just afraid of the quiet simply because it’s so foreign to us. A quiet, mindful moment doesn’t come with a user’s guide. There isn’t an app for it. (Not really.) It’s unstructured. It forces us to be alone with our thoughts… and some of those thoughts aren’t pleasant. Without distraction as a salve, old wounds can emerge.

I get it: It can be a frightening proposition.

But stay with me here: Simply because present moment awareness opens us up to possible negative feelings, that isn’t an argument against practicing it. The tradition of yoga isn’t about avoiding negative emotions. Instead, it works hard to confront them, find the source, identify everything that fear connects to inside our minds, and then deals with all of that in isolation. It effectively short circuits that negativity.

Sure, you’re going to be sad sometimes. Or angry. Or hurt. Or lonely. All of these emotions are a huge part of the human condition. Present moment awareness isn’t going to rid you of everything negative. Instead, it’s one of the best tools we have to deal with it in a way that allows our bodies, minds, and spirits to process it all to make us healthier, happier, and much more fun to be around!

How do you practice present moment awareness? Comment and share below!

(If you want to get started cultivating awareness—or check out the technique we use with our Wellness Training Institute members—you can check out this post detailing a step by step beginner’s guide.)

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