In a study conducted by the National Center for Complementary and Integrative Health, between the years 2002-2012, approximately 18 million Americans practiced meditation. Mindfulness and meditation are common practices used to ground us and gain perspective on our lives. When we practice mindfulness, we practice being aware of our present moment. Through meditation, we learn to develop a more heightened sense of sight, smell, touch, taste, and sound, leading us to appreciate each moment. We tune in to others and feel more compassion – ultimately for ourselves, others, and then the world. These forms of practice bring into light a very important term, “present-awareness”.
Present-awareness is the notion of being fully alive and aware at any given moment, because at that moment, that is all that we have. Staying present helps us to appreciate our experiences and explore our senses more in-depth. Here are some ways in which you can practice present-awareness:
- Stay in tune to your breath. Take a few moments to just breath. Begin exploring your breath. What does it feel like, flowing through you? Breathe in through your nose, and out through your mouth. How does the air feel as it enters? What about as it exits through your nose? Paying very close attention to our breath helps ground us and reminds us that we are human, and we are here.
- Eat slowly. Practice eating something simple, such as a grape. Notice the color, texture, shape, touch, smell – notice every aspect of the grape. Consider what it took to get this grape onto your plate. What cultivation process has the grape likely gone through? Imagine the many hands that have had to plant, water, till, gather, package, ship, and process to make this grape a part of your diet. As you are doing this, take the grape and slowly chew it. Take note of the way it feels to chew it, the flavors, the sounds you experience. Doing this teaches us to appreciate our current experience and all that goes into it.
- Explore your senses. Look around you and find 5 things that you can see, 4 things that you can touch, 3 things that you can smell, 2 things that you can hear and 1 thing that you can taste. Consider these things and how it forms your moment. How do these things impact you? Why are they important? Using our senses in this way ties us in to our direct experience and centers us.
There are so many ways to practice mindfulness and present-awareness, but these are a few very effective ways to begin. Present-awareness builds our resilience, strengthens our core, and connects us further to ourselves and those around us. Practicing present-awareness helps us reduce stress because it builds our capacity to handle our emotions and helps us a gain a broader perspective on life.
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