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11 Simple Ways to Supercharge Your Time in the Now

“To be alive is to totally and openly participate in the simplicity and elegance of here and now.” ~Donald Altman

Five years ago my life was a mess. I was anxious, worried, afraid, and running away from my feelings. I was running away from the present moment.

So, what happened?

I started applying what I knew, which were really simple things such as breathing, visualization, and being aware of my thought patterns.

I haven’t found the Holy Grail; I simply took action. I had no idea how much my life was about to change, I just knew something had to change, because the way I was living (and feeling) wasn’t cutting it.

I’d had enough of suffering. I wanted more. I’m not perfect, no one is, but I’m moving forward. If you’d like to do the same, I recommend the following.

1. Breathe.

What would an article about being present be without breathing at the top?

I stumbled onto old Buddhist texts early on in my life, and they emphasized breathing, so I started doing that.

At first it was hard because my mind was racing all over the place, but after a while I became aware of the muscles and subtle energy sensations in my body.

When I focused on one part of my body, I started noticing a tingling of energy there. When I anchored myself into this very moment through my breath, I felt good, sometimes amazingly good.

2. Know your triggers.

I also started noticing triggers in my life. I noticed the small things that suddenly, almost out of nowhere, had me feeling angry, depressed, or even irritated.

I had a lot of triggers around my parents. (Don’t we all?) My mother might have walked into the room and just looked at me a certain way, and I would spiral into a sea of irritation.

This is what I call a trigger. Triggers can be eliminated by simply becoming aware of them. However, sometimes it’s not that easy if the trigger has been practiced for many years. I also use Neuro-Linguistic Programming (NLP) to help the process along.

Triggers are conditioned responses that you have to external stimulus.It could be someone using a certain tone of voice with you, looking at you in a certain way, or you picking up a book with small-print and feeling discouraged, because it reminds you of school.

3. Conjure.

When I became aware of the negative triggers in my life, I realized there had to be positive ones.

It only made logical sense, right?

Mine were around good books, movies, and specific moments and achievements in my life, just to name a few examples.

It wasn’t always pleasant for me to be in the now if I was feeling bad, so what I did was I remembered a good time, and I noticed where the positive feelings started in my body.

I’d then bask in the good feelings and enjoy.

4. Try mini meditations.

I’ve never liked sitting still for long periods of time. I do meditate, but I also like doing mini meditations anywhere from five to fifteen minutes at a time.

Many people believe meditation has to be sitting down, but it can be anything, such as walking, washing the dishes, or cleaning your house. As long as you are here and now, you are, in a sense, meditating.

It's chemically impossible for you to keep a feeling inside your body for more than ninety seconds without throwing more wood in the fire.

That means that when you're feeling bad, you're doing something to keep the bad feeling there. When you meditate, you’re in the present moment, and those feelings simply dissipate because they run out of fuel.

I've often started a meditation feeling horrible, and by simply focusing on my breathing, my whole emotional state changed.

I even like to play with my “negative” feelings by becoming curious. What shape is the feeling? Where is it? If it had a color, what would it be?

Who says you have to be serious?

5. Wonder.

If you're in the present moment, you can play with questions designed to quiet your mind, such as “What is the sound of one hand clapping?”

Other questions could be:

  • What would it feel like to double my awareness of this moment?
  • Where in my body does relaxation start when I focus on my breathing?
  • What does peace feel like?

There’s no right or wrong. These kind of questions are designed to get you into a pleasant state, or get you more deeply into the now.

Simple, yet powerful.

6. Observe yourself.

I’ve had a lot of fun observing myself. I look at the thoughts racing through my head, and I wonder whose thoughts they are.

Are all thoughts you have your thoughts? I’m not too sure about that.

We are energetic beings that influence each other all the time. We also have radio waves, satellites, 3G, wireless connections, and a lot of other equipment that goes through our magnetic field all day, every day.

The same is true for other people’s thoughts. Haven’t you walked into a room and felt the energy there?

This affects us in one way or another. It is when you identify with your thoughts and whatever is happening within you that the problems start.

7. Utilize suffering.

Just in the last few weeks, I've suffered because of something that happened in my life. However, I'm becoming better and better at letting go and staying the present moment.

I use these moments of intense suffering to become mindful. I challenge myself to see how present I can be with even the most painful events.

Suffering almost always happens when you’re not paying attention to something in your life. Is there something you want to do but are afraid to?

Look at where in your life you’re suffering, and ask yourself what your life is trying to tell you. You might be surprised at the answer.

8. Seriously mindful—nay!

Life is way too important to take seriously.

I read that somewhere. I don't remember where anymore. Most people take their life so seriously that they forget to have fun.

Most of the perceived problems in your life (and in mine) are not problems at all. I could make up problems if I wanted to. I could worry about money running out, or about my business failing.

When you stay in the present moment, you notice that everything is fine. If you're reading this article, you probably have a computer, a roof over your head, and enough food to keep you alive.

The present moment is always there waiting for you.

9. Let go.

We all have layers around us. If you imagine an onion, and start peeling the layers away, you will eventually reach the center.

And that center is you. You have all the resources you need to be happy. The problem is that you have all these layers on top to protect you.

A simple way to be present is by letting go of the problems that pull you away. You see, it’s not the outside world that causes problems, it’s us—you and me.

Why do you think two people can experience the same event and come out of it with completely different stories to tell?

That is the power of your mind.

10. Practice patience.

I am extremely impatient, or at least I used to be.

Nonetheless, I have to admit that just by taking small steps every day, you will go up very far away in your personal evolution.

The only way you can stay stuck is by doing nothing.

You are making progress just by reading this article, because it naturally opens up new pathways in your mind.

I often become angry at myself for not making progress fast enough, but I’ve started mellowing out and being okay with small steps and making progress in my own good time.

It feels much better, and it allows me to accept the present moment and just be with whatever is, because everything is fine the way it is right now.

11. Accept.

There is really no thing you need. Most people want wealth and security so they can feel good, but what they don't realize is that the things “out there” are middlemen, because you are in control of how you feel.

It may not feel like that, but that's just because you haven't learned how to operate your mind.

It's funny that you can buy a $19.95 watch that comes with a sixty-page instruction manual, but when you're born, no one gives you a user’s manual for your brain.

It's been a long journey for me that started when I was 16 and discovered lucid dreaming through a TV series called Ed.

Some days have been better than others, but I’ve always been willing to move forward.

And, to me, that is the best way to grow. If you spend that time in the present moment, it’s even better.

Photo by s.h.u.t.t.e.r.b.u.g.

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  • Hey Henri, Enjoyed your post, especially the emphasis on staying in the present moment. Oddly enough, the hustle and bustle of an airport always offers me opportunities for “mini meditations”. Checking bags, passing through security, people watching, navigating the boarding process, etc., all require one to be present, and as we all know, can also be challenging. See #’s 8 and 10 above. My favorite moment is when the aircraft door closes. The past disappears, the future becomes real, I sit back, relax, and as the jet engines spool up, welcome the vibrations of another new journey.

  • This is awesome! Thank you.

  • Deb_vo

    I have been subscribing to the Tiny Buddha blog for months, now, and have reaped so much wisdom from your blogs!!! I have forwarded them to friends who have also reaped rewards from them. I’m long overdue to thank you so, so much for the time and energy that you put into these daily gems!!!!!

  • Thank you for the post, Henri, I really enjoyed it. Though we can never live a perfect life, I think if we are better off than we were at the starting point, that’s something to be happy about.

  • lilewok

    Great post….thank you.  I am working on this everyday, and always forget the mediation, or mini meditation…..thanks for reminding me!  Breathe, yes, #1!

  • Thanks so much for the note, Deb! I don’t know if you noticed, but the daily posts are actually all from different writers. I love running Tiny Buddha as a community blog, because there’s so much we can all learn from each other. It’s also eye-opening to see how different people in different circumstances overcome similar challenges. I always enjoy Henri’s posts, as they always help me plant my feet in the present moment.

    Namaste!
    Lori

  • I completely agree. I’m not too fond of airports, nor flying, but that’s just an even better reason to stay present and in the now.

  • Something I always like to remember is that not all meditation has to be sitting. You can be washing the dishes and stay present with what you’re doing. To me, that’s meditation!

  • I agree, Tammi. We can’t live a perfect life, all we can do is learn to enjoy what’s here and now. At least that’s the way I see it. Not always easy, but but 🙂

  • Thank you for reading! 🙂

  • Carlosondarza

    This curious, the website does not appear the titles of the activities recommended, but if you copy the text and paste it in Word’s Office if they are the titles

  • Anaabdula

    Breathing….feeling gratitude for where I am at in this present moment. Sending vibrations of love to those who are in my heart and soul.

  • Christina

    Thank you Henri for taking the time to write and post this. Makes so much sense to me, I can’t imagine anyone who wouldn’t find this useful especially in these trying times! simple and yet so powerful. So many of us forget to live in the here and now whilst worrying about the future or regreting what could of been so once again thank you and all the little Buddhas who take the time to contribute and help affirm and remind us what we should be doing x

  • Anonymous

    Wow you and I think very much alike. I really liked this article. I think it will help me alot. I sometimes find myself getting stuck in a certain train of thought that is not so positive, with things I perceive that are problems I cannot solve and are out of my control. It just ends up ruining the present until I can let it go, temporarily or permanently. I need to focus on 7, 9 and 11. I know what my triggers are, but I need to learn more from them and how to accept things and let them go. Thank you! 

  • Ele Scott

    Thank you for the post Henri. Truly inspiring.

  • Thank you Henri for this post, it is so useful.  I’ve been through some trying times lately and have had a hard time with self confidence now that I am in the aftermath of all of those trying times.  I think I will email this article to myself so I can have it to refer to when I am having one of those kid of days.

  • Qussay Najjar

    Great article Henri, I’ve already tried some points you’ve mentioned and I’ll be trying the others, for sure. It’s all about awareness, it’s fascinating how complicated yet simple we are.
    thanks again.

  • As a fan of both Tim Ferriss-esque productivity, and Zen Buddhist stuff, I really like the image of “supercharging the now”. Best of both worlds. 

    Keep up  the good work Henri, I’m off to do a mini-meditation. Cheers! 🙂

  • Chulor

    Wow! I have been going through some incredible suffering lately-trying to control the situation around me and make someone else live like I want them to so I can be unafraid.

    This post has made some kind of shift in my mind. I can see that I cause most of my suffering by not letting go and by utilizing suffering. Find the gift. I feel so much more empowered to make my own life happy.

    Thank you!

  • Ocket2 Kanau Tendou

    I have a huge Buddha, never tiny that’s full of my mind not only the past and future, but also present.
    It’s so wonderful all your messages about thinking to know the Great Buddha!
    But It’s too long and difficult for me to read and understand easily and clearly.
    It were more shorter and easier, I could enjoy to read it and to do more directly.
    You need enough to know, there’re so many people who are beginners of English including me around the world as you know well.

    Simple is the best!
    Buddhism is not learning!
    It must be understood easily and cearly by even a child three ages!
    Never make it more difficult and boring because they’ll give up to read before doing itself surely!

    I know it’s looked up to by so many people around the world for working to make a wonderful blog.
    I also love to pray the Great Buddha in all my life.

    God bless you! .

  • Thank you for sharing your recommendations. They really make a difference in one’s life when you apply them, but we often forget about them. I’ll print them and post them on my wall as a reminder when I go through difficult times.