To my greatest surprise, many people see me as lively and energetic, someone who’s always on an adventure enjoying life. Living vibrantly may be viewed differently by different people, but to me it is a practice of mindfulness. Noticing what gives us joy and purpose and embracing them with enthusiasm every day. Being more conscious and aware of what life gives us in the present moment is key to this. But as it happens with everyone, from time to time, I too feel like I have no life purpose and my life is going nowhere and even just getting out of bed can be a strenuous task.
A few weeks ago, I suddenly felt like I was stuck in a rut—feeling frustrated, helpless, uninspired and unfulfilled. I felt like I was—yet again—in a hamster wheel, on the edge of a burnout, exhausted and living life without a purpose. But there was a sense that rose in me that wanted more from life, to live with a burning flame, to pack up my bag again and just leave without a plan.
So when we had our Easter morning meditation and later each of us pulled an angel card with a word on it, it immediately sparked an idea in me.
My angel word was ‘patience.’ The card advised me to slow down, live in the moment and savor everything as it unfolds in my life. Do not rush things but relax and enjoy the flow of life. This description doesn’t really rhyme with the meaning I attach to patience but it resonated with me right there and made me think.
I realized that this longing for a more fulfilling life comes from a desire to escape the present moment into a more fulfilling future one. But creating a vibrant life requires a more conscious acceptance of life as it is now, in the present moment. Part of this means getting rid of negative thoughts that we all seem to have about our current circumstances when the present moment is unpleasant.
I often get caught up in my human experience and find myself living on autopilot, especially when things are going south. But whenever I consciously begin to accept myself and my life as it is in the moment, I always find myself back in a state of living a more productive and more vibrant life.
I feel most alive when I’m out in nature, on a hike, doing yoga or sports, or even something simple as painting an egg or deeply engaging with someone I love in a meaningful conversation. When I’m doing something like this, it forces me into the present moment (also called conscious moment). Doing things with full awareness can silence all thoughts, worries, and problems that otherwise might flood my mind. Being fully aware of my life experiences in the now turns any activity so much more fulfilling.
I could write you a long list of things that might help you to lead a more vibrant life, starting from eating right, exercising, meditating daily, keeping track of your spendings, journaling and making sure you’re well hydrated. And all of these things could be right and could contribute to making your life more vibrant. I lived by these guidelines for years and felt much better when following them but at times it was hard to keep myself to these practices.
Here’s a short practice that helps me get back to the present moment whenever I shift into thinking about past, future or any other things.
- Notice that you are not in the present moment and don’t judge yourself because of it. You’re more aware of the present moment just by noticing that you were not in it.
- Shift your attention to the current sensations of the present moment. What do you see? Where are you? Do you feel your clothes or the wind touching your skin? What sounds are around you? For me the easiest way to focus my brain back to the present is by grounding my feet and paying attention to my breath. I always start some kind of conscious breathing pattern as well: yogic breathing, belly breathing, or just simply counting the length of my breath (eg. 4 count in, 4 count hold, 4 count out).
- Savor the experience for at least 30–60 seconds if possible. It will help you to calm down and arrive in the now, so from then staying present in the moment should be easier each time you practice it.
The most difficult thing about building this habit is remembering. I used to have an alarm on phone for every hour with the question coming up: “Am I present?” or “What am I thinking about?” It helped me to develop the habit of checking-in on myself. After a month or so, once the habit is ingrained, you may find that you no longer need it.
Each moment in life has a meaning, whether we notice this or bypass it. Making the most of life as it happens, rather than wishing for the past or worrying about the future or being “somewhere else” can improve the quality of life .
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Photo: Joel Mott via Unsplash