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Live in the Moment: 10 Ways to Instantly Be Present

Updated on July 10, 2017
B. Leekley profile image

Brian minored in philosophy in college. He has taken religion classes. He has practiced Transcendental Meditation since 1973.

A baby aware, here and now, of her toes
A baby aware, here and now, of her toes | Source

Why Care About Noticing This Present Moment?

Thinking is a useful tool for us humans. We deal with the problems of life with the mental tools of recall, foresight, and reasoning with logic.

Emotions are also useful tools. An angry tone will make the injunction "Stop it!" more effective. Joyous affection will make endearing words more pleasing and memorable than if said deadpan. "Help!" yelled with fright and urgency will more likely get attention than if said with no emotion.

But just as it makes no sense to leave a car engine, a lamp, or a stove on when it is not being used, it makes no sense to be constantly thinking thoughts and re-churning emotions, needed or not.

Especially wasteful of one's time and mind power is to replay patterns of thoughts and emotions pertaining to an incident that is past and done, or to incessantly worry and fret about a future decision or possibility. Using one's mind power for thoughts and feelings of resentment, regret, longing, apprehension, or other mental tethers to the past or future is at best of limited and short-lived usefulness. Such thoughts and feelings block one from finding interesting, or even noticing, each present, gone-in-an-instant moment, with its opportunities for appreciation, productivity, and creativity.

Meditating in Madison Square Park, Manhattan, New York City
Meditating in Madison Square Park, Manhattan, New York City | Source

Not Meditation

Some of the techniques I describe for being in the moment are used also in certain types of meditation, such as in mindfulness meditation or in mantra meditation. Here I am describing a different use of these techniques for a different purpose. The techniques that I describe below are for use when not meditating, when going about one's activities of the day. Regular meditation will increase the efficiency of the techniques described here, and the techniques described here will help bring into one's active life the gains of daily meditation.

These techniques differ from meditation techniques in these ways: 1) they are of comparatively brief duration, and 2) it's fine to switch from one to another, which can be done in an instant. For instance, one meditation technique is to mindfully observe one's breathing for 20 minutes, half an hour, or some other time unit, and to do only that, returning to mindfulness of breathing whenever one's mind strays. For present purposes, just a few seconds of mindful breathing may be sufficient to bring one's mind from wandering in the past or future back to the present. Once back, one can just breathe without being particularly mindful about it, while noticing, for instance, a passing by bicyclist, the scent of a peach, what a friend is saying.

And when it really is helpful to be mentally in the past or the future, that shift, too, can be done in an instant. [What a beautiful day! Nice breeze! Where did I park my car? Think back an hour. The mind's attention goes momentarily back in time to recall what happened and returns to the present. Ah, I remember! It's that way. I'm watching for it.] There is nothing wrong with mentally wandering back or forth in time, when that's of help. It's just that the present is when and where one's life is an "on live" experience and not some mental re-run or preview.

Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1978
Maharishi Mahesh Yogi in 1978 | Source

In My Own Experience

Bringing my mind back to full awareness of the here now present moment instantly and noticeably dissolves or reduces any feelings I may have been having of anxiety, dread, depression, boredom, resentment, or impatience.

For years my mind was mired in such negativity. Then in December 1973 I learned Transcendental Meditation (TM), the mantra meditation technique taught to my TM teacher by the late Maharishi Mahesh Yogi. The routine of doing TM for 20 minutes twice daily gently, gradually, and effectively, over months and years, released the bulk of my built-up stress and negativity, allowing my usual state to instead mostly be a mellow, alert equanimity combined with appreciation, curiosity, and enthusiasm for accomplishments. I became more creative and productive.

For instance, during the 1990s I wrote a novel that a publisher accepted; I transitioned my used books business from mail-order to Internet-based; I got happily married at age 52, and I did that while I was the primary caretaker of my mother, hemiplegic and aphasic from a stroke, helping her to have a life as well as be safe and comfortable. I did those things with an effectiveness and a gladness that for me would have been impossible without the previous years of TM daily practice.

I continue these days to meditate often, and Transcendental Meditation continues for me to result in less negative, more positive, feelings, thoughts, and behaviors. Like a ship that moves better through the water because freed of barnacles, if I meditate regularly my mind tends to be less on resentments, regrets, and anxieties and more on eagerly solving problems, on creating (e.g., hubs), and on encouraging and cheering others.

Regularly practicing TM, or any other technique of deep meditation, is like twice daily thoroughly brushing and flossing one's teeth, while using the techniques described in this article is like as needed giving one's teeth a quick water swish.

The best default state of mind is attentive awareness. Why best? Because most interesting and satisfying. Described below are simple, easy ways to bring one's wandering mind instantly back to awareness of the here, now moment.

A group mindfully walking
A group mindfully walking | Source

1. Mindfulness

Without controlling, changing, or influencing it, notice and observe your breathing. Hear and feel each breath as it enters and leaves your nostrils, as your body, naturally and automatically, in response to its needs, moves the diaphragm down and up, breathes in and out. Once being mindful of your breathing has brought your attention away from thoughts of what was, might have been, or might come, and your awareness is of here now, then just go about your business in a state of full awareness of your presence in the happening scene, taking no special notice of your breathing.

Do that as often as you like. I find it especially helpful when listening to someone's long anecdote, when my mind tends to wander during the little pauses as she-he talks.

Observing one's breathing is the handiest mindfulness technique for returning one's awareness to the present and maintaining it there, because a living person does not ever not breathe for long, but any other regularly repeated action can be mindfully observed as a way to bring one's attention to the present. If you are walking when you realize your mind has wandered, note your steps. If you are eating, mindfully chew each bite. If you are dancing, dance mindfully. Remember that I am not discussing mindfulness meditation. Be mindful of an activity just long enough to return your attention to the present, and then just enjoy being there, attentively aware of whatever in the scene in each instant interests you.

Dancing is repetitive movements, stepping in a pattern to music. Many people enjoy it. When dancing, one might mindfully count the beats of the music or notice one's steps or observe one's partner's movements.

On the other hand, many people regard other repetitive movement activities with resistance. As one of them is happening, they wish it were over and done with. Why not enjoy the washing dishes dance, the making a bed dance, the tidying a room dance, the vacuuming a rug dance, the assembling factory parts dance, the using the copy machine at the office dance, and so on?

Need music? No radio, mp3 player, or dance band? Imagine whatever music or song suits the dance and comes to mind.

2. Repeat a Word

This is like using a meditation mantra. I've found that, as I go about the routines and activities of a day, I can reduce mind chatter and keep my awareness more in the present moment if, as needed, I repeat a word or phrase in my mind. One of my favorites is "hallelujah." Some others are "amen," "maranatha," "boom," "la," and "holy moly."

See, hear, smell, taste, feel
See, hear, smell, taste, feel | Source

3. Use Your Senses

You can't help but be aware of your here and now if you intentionally and actively look, listen, smell, feel, or taste. To bring your awareness to the present in an instant, simply look at what is in your sight. Take note of persons, of animals, of whatever is moving, of whatever is lovely.

Play cop and look for whatever is suspiciously out of place. Look about you with an artist's eyes, noticing arrangements of color and form and what would be a good photograph or painting. Look with a parent's eyes, seeing possibilities for play, danger, and teaching. Look with a reporter's eyes, asking yourself what's the story here.

Just so, just listen. As I draft this paragraph, I hear a clock ticking and, from outside my apartment, the tires on pavement sound of passing cars. I can't be attentive of the sounds I hear and be daydreaming at the same time. Perhaps where you are you hear a refrigerator motor, a bird call, a frog, the wind, your footsteps. Whatever you hear, or even if you are surrounded by silence, listen attentively; just by doing that, you will be in the moment.

Touch anything and note its feel. Just doing that will instantly bring your attention to the present. Touch several things with awareness -- a desk, a cell phone, a keyboard, a chair, a pet, whatever. Or take note of the feel of your weight, of gravity pulling you down, or of the feel of breeze on your skin, or of any sensation of warmth or cold. Then, aware of now, go about your business.

Take note of the smells coming to you. I have a terrible sense of smell, so usually I can't smell anything, but just trying to smell whatever I can brings my attention to the present. Smell, when I do smell something, is the perception most likely to bring a nostalgic memory. A gasoline smell might bring a memory of my grandfather's Model A Ford; a grass smell might bring a memory of mowing the lawn when I was a child growing up in an Illinois village; a fish smell might bring childhood fishing memories. I welcome such memories, say an affectionate hello and good-bye to them, so to speak, and then give attention to the smell in its present context.

Being mindful of the lick of ice cream in your mouth is a fuller, more intense taste pleasure than will be your memory of the taste experience. Notice the "good old days" as they are going by now moment by moment. Live life live.

Is he living in the moment?
Is he living in the moment? | Source

4. Participate in Games, Sports, and Other Pastimes

I think that a major reason the playing of games is popular, whether sport games, parlor games, card games, or board games, is that games put one's attention in the present. A game is an excuse to not be thinking about problems, plans, arguments, or worries and to instead take a micro vacation, one's mind in the moment.

Sports and pastimes keep one of necessity focused on now. If your mind gets to thinking about the past or the future while, for instance, you are playing ping-pong, pounding a nail, riding a bicycle, playing a musical instrument, or sewing a hem, then you are liable to miss the ball, hammer your thumb, ride into a pothole, play a wrong note, or sew a crooked hem line. If while you are a batter waiting for a pitch in baseball, you are having Walter Mitty daydreams, or you are thinking about what you should have retorted to the other car driver who days ago cussed at you, you will probably strike out.

Hunting, with rifle or camera, requires paying attention. If you are not alert at the crucial moment, you won't be able to act in time when the 10-point buck stands like a statue staring at you before bounding away, or when the mallard flies right over your head.

"Woolgathering" while you are playing, for instance, poker or chess will decrease your odds of winning. Not paying attention in some sports -- car racing, glade skiing, canoeing difficult rapids, skywalking -- can lead to serious or fatal injury.

To live a balanced life, include in it some play time. Games and sports, as fits your circumstances and interests, are enjoyable ways to live in the moment.

5. Mentally "See" Just Ahead

This is one of my favorite techniques for living in the moment. Form a mental image in your mind of what you intend to do in the near future. Perhaps you intend to take a plane trip next week or to do grocery shopping tomorrow. Whatever is coming up for you pretty soon, picture that. Now picture what you will be doing in the even nearer future. Perhaps you have in mind to get the mail, drink a glass of water, and see what's on TV. Keep shortening how far in the future you will do what you now visualize, until you visualize what you are going to do in an instant. For example, mentally see yourself sitting down on a chair an imperceptible instant (like, an imagined nanosecond) before you sit, reaching for your loose shoelaces an instant before you reach, grabbing the ends of your shoelaces an instant before you grab them, pulling your laces tight an instant before you pull them, and so on.

The technique is to visualize your future as you expect it will be in an instant—in, say, a hundredth of a second or a millisecond or a nanosecond—and to do that continually. Because the gap between what is now and what is coming in that instant is too short to think about or even to notice, the apparent effect will be direct awareness of your present continually arriving here now out of future possibilities.

6. Imagine You Are "On Camera"

My very favorite be here now technique is similar to the last one, but it adds a fun element of pretense. My brother John Leekley writes screenplays. One time back in the 90s a TV movie starring Helen Hunt that John wrote, In The Company of Darkness, was being made, and some scenes were being filmed in a Chicago suburb less than an hour's drive from where I then lived. I got to visit the set one day and watch the filming, which I did with much appreciation and wide-eyed interest.

At one point the director asked me to play a background character, which I gladly did for the fun of it. What I've remembered ever since about the experience is how alert and aware I was while on camera. I wanted to do my little part just right, so I would please the director and the actors and not ruin the shot with a flub. I had to be realistically in character and react appropriately without calling the audience's attention to me. When the cameras were on, I was very much aware of my every movement, my stance, my expression. The director said I did fine. They shot the scene a few times from different angles, plus some closeups of the main characters. I was in some of the shots but not most of them. I ended up in just one shot, seconds long, in the movie. I and the other background characters are blurred to put the audience's attention on the main characters.

The on camera technique is to pretend that cameras are filming the happening now scene in the movie of your life. Being "on camera" makes one very aware of being here now. You improvise, guided by the Director's suggestions, which come in a pretend high tech way as words or as mental images.

The director is Mr. (or Ms.) Intuition—or sometimes in my imagination "the Spirit," as in the words to the spiritual and civil rights movement song, "Do what the Spirit says do." He (or she) is very supportive and encouraging, suggesting not only what to do moment to moment but with what attitude to do it. Director's Voice: "Confidently flip the frying egg."

When I am "on camera" in that pretend way, not only is my attention in the present, but, encouraged by the imaginary director, this technique helps me to be more confident, courageous, and decisive and less awkward in the present than usual.

7. Imagine You Just Stepped Out of Dr. Who's TARDIS

Doctor Who is a TV science fiction fantasy series in which a Time Lord known as The Doctor, starting from the far away planet of Gallifrey, travels through space and time, having adventures on different planets, including earth, using his ingenuity to save societies from calamities and villains. The navigation controls of his TARDIS spacetime ship have been damaged, so when he travels in it, he doesn't know where or when it will land. Each time it lands, Doctor Who must learn fast how to survive and cope in whatever situation he finds himself.

Pretend that you, alone, just stepped out of the TARDIS and that it immediately disappeared, leaving you wherever you are to fend for yourself. Expect the unexpected. Stay alert.

8. Pretend You Are On Vacation

Taking vacation trips is popular in part because during a vacation one's mind is attracted more than usually to the here and now. The sights, sounds, and smells are unfamiliar. Around every bend of the road an adventure might await. A stranger might be friendly or unfriendly. A momentary lapse of attention might mean missing an interesting landmark, an awesome view, or a fascinating happening.

This technique is to pretend you are on vacation. See, hear, and smell your familiar surroundings with an attitude of curiosity.

Might a watchful responsible adult have forestalled the fight?
Might a watchful responsible adult have forestalled the fight? | Source

9. Take Responsibility for Active Children

If you are a parent, a sitter, a schoolteacher, a playground supervisor, or anyone else responsible for the safety and well-being of toddlers or young children playing or studying near you, you'd best have your attention on the present moment, even if the children at the moment are self-motivated and creatively finding permissible ways to occupy themselves. If your attention strays, within seconds a minor disagreement between two children might have turned into a fight or a toddler who has scarcely learned to run might be dashing toward danger. When with young children, one needs to stay mentally present, aware and alert.

The same goes for keeping an eye on puppies or kittens.

10. Want to Be Here Now

This is the simplest and most effective technique for living in the moment, for being present—to choose to want most of all to be here now. When others speak of "the good old days" or of better times to come "after the revolution" or "when our savior comes" and ask you where and when you wish you were, say, believe, and feel that your heart's desire, your greatest wish, is to be here now. This moment is what you can, fleetingly, possess immediately with your senses. Want it. Possess it. Be aware of it, for its instant. If the moment you are in sucks, want to be, and be, in it, changing your circumstances.

In my theology, to do God's will is to "take it as it comes," within each instant of experience doing one's best to do what seems fitting. This, I think, is the lesson of the Bible / Torah / Quran story of Joseph, son of Jacob.

What is your preference?

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Conclusion

Those are a few of the ways to opt to be in the moment. No implication is intended that being fully present, aware, mindful is better than having one's attention on a memory, a hope, a worry, or a conundrum. Use the mind's tools, such as thinking and memory, when and as needed, and afterward bring your attention again to your here and now.

The instant you enter a moment, you are leaving it. Or it is leaving you. Wonder at the ever now flow of moments.

While Mindfully Chatting on Her Cell Phone

Caveat

Taking being in the moment to extremes can cause inconvenience, embarrassment, or harm.

Suppose I am mindfully doing domestic tasks, my attention on my actions, and all is fine as I wash dishes or whatever, and my mind never leaves the present to think ahead to what to fix for supper and to realize that something I want to prepare is in the freezer and needs to be thawed. Result: A late supper.

Or suppose that I am mindfully watching the clouds as I walk and I walk into a lamppost.

Or suppose that I am mindfully shopping in a supermarket, my attention on my shopping list and my surroundings, and my mind never leaves the present to go back in time via memory to remember that my spouse asked me as I was leaving our place to please buy her something chocolate. Result: Disappointment for her and embarrassment for me.

So don't be in the moment 100% of the time. The technique I use is to imagine my mind functioning like a mind map. (What's that? Search the Net on: Buzan mind map.) The center is the here and now. The branches represent briefly thinking back into the past and ahead into the future as knowledge of them affect what I do now.

Another analogy is a wagon train bringing settlers into the American West in the nineteenth century. Scouts were sent ahead to look for hostile Indians, robbers, natural obstacles and dangers, suitable campsites, etc., and search parties were, I suppose, sent back to help stragglers. The scouts and the searchers didn't wander off and forget about the wagon train. They scouted a little ahead or searched a little behind, keeping their purposes in mind and soon returning to the wagon train. Just so, my attention frequently and briefly leaves the present moment to consider what from the past I need to remember now and what is coming up in the future that I need to anticipate now.

For instance, at the present my mind is mainly on drafting this prose but keeps remembering that I am to wake my wife at 7 a.m., in less than an hour.

© 2011 Brian Leekley

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    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 4 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, vocalcoach.

    • vocalcoach profile image

      Audrey Hunt 4 months ago from Nashville Tn.

      Absolutely the most helpful hub for learning how to live in the moment. Your suggestions on "mindfulness" hare a great help. Being focused and shutting out distractions are so necessary for working on goals.

      Thank you!

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 15 months ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, Michelle. You're a very good writer. Re mindfulness, I'm better at writing about being mindful than I am at being mindful.

    • mchllhwgt profile image

      Michelle How 16 months ago

      Fabulous article on techniques. You put my own writing to shame! I'm only a few years into my mindful journey with so much still to learn. I follow with anticipation

    • darciefrench profile image

      Darcie French 20 months ago from BC Canada

      Thank-you for this peaceful hub :)

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, Pharimalpolymath.

      Skepticism is good. Research TM thoroughly before coming to a decision about it. I hope and expect to write a hub before long about my TM experience.

      I know a man who teaches mindfulness of the kind you practice. He charges for most of his classes, but he also has a monthly drop-in class with only a $5 suggested donation. I've been to it a few times. He does some explaining and then guides a mindfulness meditation. During it, I use the TM technique. Maybe next time I'll meditate his way.

    • Parimalpolymath profile image

      Prabhat Parimal 2 years ago from India

      Great article! Very elaborate.

      I practice mindfulness daily but in the form it is prescribed by psychologists. I have heard about the transcendental meditation but I am skeptical about it.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Thanks for those extra ideas. LOL @ ironing. Iron = 'four letter word.' Not said in my household. Hahahaha

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, Dzy.

      Observing one's breathing as it is happening without thought or effort is just one of many ways to bring one's attention to the present.I expect your daughter can find ones that work well for her. My mother's technique was ironing a basket full of laundered dress shirts. Holding a baby works. Standing on one foot works. Watching an ant's meandering journey works.

    • DzyMsLizzy profile image

      Liz Elias 2 years ago from Oakley, CA

      Most interesting and useful, indeed. I have been in a 16-week group session, in which 'being in the moment' was discussed. I think you have captured the essence of this as well or better!

      I am reminded of the line, "Carpe Diem," from the Robin Williams movie, "Dead Poet's Society," (although the saying predates that movie by centuries)!

      I had to chuckle at your lengthy treatise on concentrating on breathing. I have done this from time to time; it is not a constant with me. But my younger daughter (age 44), has anxiety, and I was telling her the technique, and she said, "Oh, my goodness, no! I'd be worrying about my breathing by doing that: 'am I breathing too shallow? too deep? In danger of hyperventilating? ' etc..and that would cause me even greater anxiety!" So it's not a universally useful technique, though it does work for many.

      Voted up, interesting and useful as well as shared.

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks for commenting, ThatMommyBlogger. I hope you find this article helpful in finding simple techniques for switching back and forth between thinking and attentive awareness -- also called mindfulness.

    • ThatMommyBlogger profile image

      Missy 2 years ago from The Midwest

      I'm a constant thinker. My brain just never stops. I bookmarked this so I can read it later.

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, Peggy W. Glad you like it.

    • Peggy W profile image

      Peggy Woods 2 years ago from Houston, Texas

      I will look at things differently today and try some of the techniques you gave us in this good hub of yours. Thanks!

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, MarleneB. I also recommend doing some meditating each day. Google on: "mindfulness meditation" and on "mantra meditation" and on "guided imagery meditation" and on "Christian meditation".

    • MarleneB profile image

      Marlene Bertrand 2 years ago from Northern California, USA

      One of the most important things I need to do for myself this year is to begin practicing the act of mindfulness. I found this article very timely and helpful.

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      What a wonderful practice, AudreyHowitt. I assume that the time between your mentally hearing a note and your singing it is a short fraction of a second. I'm going to try that in conversation -- not ponder and worry what I am going to say (when I should be listening) but rather imagining myself speaking each phrase an instant before I speak it. Maybe I will be a more effective and less anxious conversationalist.

      I wish I knew how to sing a particular note. I know how to play the notes in printed music on a piano and using some other instruments. If you say play middle C on a piano, I can do that, because I know what the note looks like on a page and I know what the note looks like on a piano keyboard, but if you say sing a middle C "oh", I have no notion how to even attempt that, unless I can hear an instrument play or a person sing that note; then I can match it or make a chord with it. It is awesome and mysterious that you and other singers can hear notes in your heads and can sing the words of a song in a song book note for note. Could a singing teacher teach me how to do that and how to identify notes by sound? In church I use the hymnal to know what words to sing but I figure out what notes to sing by matching my notes with those of a nearby good singer, and I try to make chord sounds, but I have no notion what notes either of us is singing.

    • AudreyHowitt profile image

      Audrey Howitt 2 years ago from California

      Your seeing ahead technique is very similar to what I do in singing. I hear every note and word before I sing it--and I hear it the way that I want to sing it, and then I sing it that way--it is the best way to eliminate fear and worry and other distractions so that it is just me and the music

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      PegCole17, I'm gad you like this hub. The "mired" quote reminds me that I should write a hub about my positive experience practicing Transcendental Meditation, which is how I shed most of the negativity.

    • PegCole17 profile image

      Peg Cole 2 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      It's interesting that when I scroll through someone's hubs looking for one I would like to read, that often, I unknowingly select the same one again. Here I am back to absorb and reread this excellent and profound article once again. Of my favorite parts, this one stands out, "For years I was mired in such negativity." So was I before I decided to "Be Here Now".

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 2 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, jponiato. I'm glad it's of use.

    • jponiato profile image

      jponiato 2 years ago from Mid-Michigan

      Thank you for this interesting treatise and these techniques. Bookmarking for future reference. Voted up, interesting, useful.

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      Brian Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks much for the compliment, askformore.

    • askformore lm profile image

      askformore lm 3 years ago

      Thank you for a great hub! I have bookmarked it, and will visit you again. Thumbs up!

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      That sounds like a worthwhile class, caseymel, especially if you've retained that ability to center yourself and be in the moment.

    • caseymel profile image

      caseymel 3 years ago from Indiana

      I used to take a yoga class that would help us center ourselves and be in the moment. I really learned a lot more than just yoga from that class.

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks lots, Patsybell,

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks for commenting, Jaye, and voting Up. It sounds like our minds work a lot a like. I need techniques for getting my attention back to the present because my mind likes to meander away into daydreams and rehashing the past. My biggest difficulty is staying attentive when listening to a speaker.

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks lots, Au fait, for commenting, pinning, and sharing. I agree that the now moment is really the future because of the lag time between event and perception. By thinking about the future in smaller and smaller time intervals, down to a flash fraction of a second, one can seem to be in the present moment.

    • Patsybell profile image

      Patsy Bell Hobson 3 years ago from zone 6a, SEMO

      I have wondered about mindfulness and being in the moment. Lots of information here and now to think about. Voted up, U, I, tweet.

    • JayeWisdom profile image

      Jaye Denman 3 years ago from Deep South, USA

      This has a lot of excellent insightful information and varied techniques for not letting one's self get caught up in either daydreaming or dwelling on past problems that can't be changed. I will read it again...and perhaps again to familiarize myself with the techniques and your suggestions.

      I have a tendency to daydream that, while it is often pleasant, is not practical and wastes time that could better be used enjoying the moment or doing something useful in that moment (or hour).

      Also, sometimes when my mind wanders I allow myself to go back and think of past mistakes, injustices, unhappy experiences, etc.--in other words, things that can't be changed. Any lessons available from those happenings have already been learned so there's no profit from dwelling on them. My time (of which much less is left these days) would be better spent 'in the moment.'

      Thanks for sharing all of this in a great hub.

      Voted Up++

      Jaye

    • Au fait profile image

      C E Clark 3 years ago from North Texas

      Living in the now is important because now is so fleeting. You have a lot of good suggestions for bringing oneself back to the moment, but it's really the future because moments are pass so quickly.

      Very interesting. Enjoyed your various perspectives. I think they can be helpful too, to people who may feel their lives are out of control or beyond their control. Quieting one's mind and bringing oneself into the here and now can be very helpful in regaining the control one believes they have somehow lost.

      Voted up, AUI, pinned to Awesome HubPages, and sharing with my followers.

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks for commenting, teaches12345, and for letting me know I got an Editor's Choice award. I haven't yet looked up what that is, but I'm pleased I accomplished receiving it. I've been a slow hub writing learner.

    • B. Leekley profile image
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      Brian Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      I'm glad you find my Be In the Moment hub helpful, grand old lady. I'm scatterbrained and prone to daydreaming, so I need these simple techniques to stay present and aware.

    • teaches12345 profile image

      Dianna Mendez 3 years ago

      Congratulations on the Editor's Choice award on this excellent topic. I find it helpful to think about camping or the ocean when I cannot sleep or need quietness. I enjoyed your sharing.

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      Mona Sabalones Gonzalez 3 years ago from Philippines

      I actually took notes from your hub and am doing the breathing technique right now. It is so helpful. Amazing how such a small thing can make such a big difference. Great hub!

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      Brian Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, Kathleen.

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      Kathleen Odenthal Romano 3 years ago from Bayonne, New Jersey

      Thank you for the follow. I see we share many common interests. I liked this hub and look foreward to reading more!

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      Brian Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thank you, DonnaCaprio.

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      Donna Caprio Quinlan 3 years ago from Newburyport, MA

      I love your tips about staying present. My mind often wanders so all help is appreciated! I love the video of the 80 yr. old sky walker. Thanks for a great hub!

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      Brian Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks for commenting, DreamerMeg. I daydream about those long ago years when I was a child daydreaming about being a grown-up. Then I whack my head and bite my tongue to remind me to stay aware of here now.

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      DreamerMeg 3 years ago from Northern Ireland

      Very interesting. As a child I daydreamed all the time but now, as an adult, I live more in the present.

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      Brian Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks for commenting, georgescifo. I agree that those are good practices to have in one's daily routine.

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      Brian Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks very much, CrisSp, for pinning and sharing and for the song quote. I'm glad you like this hub and find it helpful.

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      georgescifo 3 years ago from India

      Meditation and participation in games and sports two of the major activity that I take to keep me cool and composed.

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      CrisSp 3 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      I've been reminding myself time and again, it is here, it is now and you've just reminded me again. Thank you for this wonderful hub. Pleasure to read it and definitely pinning and sharing it.

      Just like what my favorite Jason Mraz said in his song:

      "Live in the moment

      To live my life

      Easy and breezy

      With peace in my mind

      With peace in my heart

      Got peace in my soul

      Wherever I'm going, I'm already home"

      Cheers! Voting up and across.

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      Brian Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Yes, Ericdierker, for sure being in the moment is a necessity when hiking or climbing where you need to watch your step, or when playing a sport like basketball, or when working a job like dentist or air traffic controller at a busy airport. It does not come readily and easily for me when I'm sitting at my desk to pay attention to what is going on outside my head. Like, a few years ago in another city, a sniper killed and wounded several persons less than a block from where I sat and everyone in the neighborhood heard the shots except me. These be aware of here and now tips of mine are opposed in me by the lure of daydreaming.

      The main point of an interesting old (1959) book, The Management of Time by McCay, is that if you are in business and don't stay aware and alert, you're not going to clearly understand all that is said to you, and that is going to mean foolish decisions, lost business, and wasted time. (Actually the book has a more sophisticated discussion of problems of perception, but that's my take-away.)

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      Eric Dierker 3 years ago from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A.

      Strange but we learned these things in life from a young age and did not label them at all. We lived in the country and there were creeks to cross and cliffs to climb and missteps could be fatal. Funny that we used the term "Pay Attention". And yet now as a Christian pastor who teaches meditation I see those words were right on the money.

      Great hub

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      Brian Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, ChristinS. I'm glad you found this hub helpful. I agree re relieving anxiety and stress.

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      Christin Sander 3 years ago from Midwest

      Voted and shared. I use a few of these mindfulness techniques and I do practice meditation a lot. Nothing is better for relieving anxiety or stress than to put oneself full and present. You shared a few techniques that are new to me though that I am definitely going to try! :)

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      Brian Leekley 3 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks lots, Audrey.

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      Audrey Selig 3 years ago from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma

      Hi- Thank you for sharing this enlightening article. I am always telling my spouse to be in the moment, when we have a discussion about something and he moves on to other items. I can usually not concentrate on many things at a time. I guess I need to be in the moment and not have my mind jumbled by using my brain to the point of overload. I do meditation and other calming processes, and I learn by asking questions. Your article points out the importance of looking around , thinking of pleasant things and not ruminating over happenings. It is easy to do but best not done. What point is it to look back at yesterday or worry about tomorrow. Someone once said."Yesterday is gone, today is here, and tomorrow is an enigma." Well done. Pinning and sharing. Blessings Audrey

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks for commenting, MarleneB. Looking at the matter from a Christian perspective, one might consider that God is far away in heaven and also here now, in us and among us and in His works and everywhere. So to be present and aware encompasses both the world of perception and the presence of God -- revealed, for instance, in the striving for life and growth by a potted vine in my living room, in the creativity begun by my wife with some pieces of fabric and left by her sewing machine, and outside my window, the sky, ancient symbol of God's boundlessness. The Bible has lots of words that can be repeated to keep one's mind present at the here now: hallelujah, amen, maranatha, hosanna, etc.

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      Marlene Bertrand 4 years ago from Northern California, USA

      I have a lot to explore. These are all such excellent techniques. I think I'll start with the Repeating a Word technique.

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks lots for your comment, Jatinder. I agree about the baby photo. That picture and the photo of a man surfboarding an ocean wave to me say, "This is being in the moment."

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      Jatinder Joshi 4 years ago from Whitby, Ontario, Canada

      Great hub. Enjoyed reading about all the techniques that you have listed. Have attempted some; will attempt the others. Thank you for sharing.

      To me the first photograph of the baby counting the toes said it all. I have a four year old granddaughter and she is my greatest teacher to be here and now. Children are always, 'here and now'; living in the present moment. Somehow as we grow, we pride ourselves in doing many things at once and lose the ability to be here and now. Good or bad, I am not sure.

      All this is tied to our mind and the tricks it plays to keep us entangled. In the present moment, the mind ceases to exist. Mind is all about past and future. Meditation in effect tries to stop this 'monkey' mind from going from Paris to New York and then Japan in less than a second.

      Have a happy unmindful day!

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Abby, I'm glad this hub might prove helpful to you. Thanks for commenting.

      I'm currently attending a weekly free class on mindfulness meditation. It usually includes twenty minutes to half an hour of meditating, with the teacher doing a guided meditation of "body scan" mindfulness or of breath mindfulness. Sometimes I use the time for Transcendental Meditation, which I learned in the mid 70s.

      I find that the techniques described in this hub for bringing awareness back to here and now during a day's activities and regular meditation (using whatever technique) complement each other.

      TM is a mantra meditation technique. A mantra is a verbal sound (with or without meaning as a word) that the meditator brings to mind as effortlessly as any other thought and then observes mindfully as the mind repeats it however the person pleases. If the meditator notices he or she has been thinking other thoughts, he or she gently brings the mantra back to mind and continues. Sometimes the mantra gets finer and finer and fades away, leaving one briefly in a state of pure awareness, like listening to silence or floating in darkness. It's all good -- being mindful of the mantra and having thought sidetracks and having moments of awareness of being -- so long as it is done without effort beyond the easy one of bringing the mantra into mind as a thought. Best to learn TM or some other deep meditation technique from a trained teacher who can answer questions about experiences that might come. For instance, as the body gets very relaxed while the mind is alert, old stresses might be released and bring strong memories or feelings.Regular meditation, day by day, month by month, year by year, gradually releases such harbored stresses, resulting in increased positivity.

      The mantra I learned when I was taught the TM technique is from a Hindu tradition. Sometimes for a mantra I instead use the Biblical word "maranatha".

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      Abby Campbell 4 years ago from Charlotte, North Carolina

      I love this hub, Mr. Leekley. It is full of wonderful and useful information that I have been looking for for a long time. Thank you! I will incorporate some of these techniques starting today. :-)

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, Kathryn.

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      Kathryn 4 years ago from Manchester, Connecticut

      This is a very interesting article, and I liked hearing about the different ways you focus on being in the moment. Thanks for sharing this insightful piece with us, and have a wonderful weekend.

      ~ Kathryn

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, einavann.

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      elnavann 4 years ago from South Africa

      Thanks. This was a much needed reminder ..... I tend to lose myself in the past and future. Also very well-written

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, brightforyou.

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, Peg.

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      Helen 4 years ago from Florida

      This is a very thorough and helpful hub full of information and well-written. You take the concept of 'present moment' living and break it down into bite sized chunks for us to chew on.. I loved this hub, thank you!

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      Peg Cole 4 years ago from Dallas, Texas

      There are so many techniques here that are definitely useful to help us enjoy every moment. I love the philosophy "Be Here Now" and the exercise of living the Dr. Who moment of reincarnation. I'll be marking these references for some future reading. Thanks so much. Voted way up!

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      I'm glad you like it, kims3003.

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      kims3003 4 years ago

      You are a very talented and gifted writer - one of the best! This hub is amazing - Have passed it on to several people close to me.

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, DDE.

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      Devika Primić 4 years ago from Dubrovnik, Croatia

      Live each day to the fullest is how I often think, and you have said more than just that there, brilliant techniques which I haven't heard of and such a meaningful Hub to life.

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks for commenting again, Fossillady, and adding that you grew up in Kalamazoo and are living in the Saugatuck area. How do you like my Kalamazoo hub?

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks lots Fossillady, for your positive comment. I took a look at your Still the Waters hub. It's a good introduction to some contemporary writers on spirituality, with well chosen quotes. I'm thinking that sometime soon I will put a link to it in this hub. Your photos are lovely.

      Silent stillness of mind is something that I sometimes have briefly during transcendental meditation.

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      Kathi 4 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      So thankful to be led to this today. I have one of those busy worrying minds and could use this practical advise. You have certainly provided it with an awesomely thorough, well written hub dripping of quality! Will link this to a hub I posted about the "silent stillness" so even more people can find this. My hub "Still the Waters" quotes today's gurus on the subject, but wanted more practical advise to give people. This will be perfect! Bless You, Kathi

      BTW I grew up in Kalamazoo and now I live in the Saugatuck area ... Best of luck on your book and I will check out some chapters another day. Got to get back to my own book now... thank again

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      Kathi 4 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      I'm very glad to have been led by your awesomely informative hub today. I have one of those busy worrying minds and needed some practical suggestions in the daily execution of life! Quality is dripping from this hub! Thank you for all you did here which I find wonderfully thorough and extremely helpful! Will link this to my hub called "Still the Waters" on the subject of being in the moment so even more people can find it. My hub, though, is more about the importance of silent stillness, but I didn't have any practical suggestions in the daily going about your business routine!Blessings to you, Kathi :O)

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks very much, Denise.

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      Denise Handlon 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Brian, this is a very well presented article on techniques of mindfulness. I'm sure they will serve people well. I also loved the examples you gave, including the videos. Rated up/U/I/A

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, Mary. I hope you find the hub beneficial.

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      Mary Hyatt 4 years ago from Florida

      This is a Hub that I have to bookmark and go back and reread. It is late and my little brain can't handle all this information. I have meditated for many years, and I try to "live in the moment". I read the Power of Now and truly believe in what it has to say.

      Lot to think about in this Hub. I voted it UP, etc.etc.

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      Don A. Hoglund 4 years ago from Wisconsin Rapids

      I have found that the concept of "concentration" seems to be a common feature to improvement techniques. It could also be "focus." Like you point out our minds wander Focusing on whatever one is doing helps to do more with less frustration. Easier said than done in my case.

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks for commenting, ALUR. I hope you find some of the be here now techniques that I use helpful. I agree that the key is remembering to use any of them.

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thank you very much for sharing it, Audrey, and I am glad you love it.

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      ALUR 4 years ago from USA

      I'm blessed to have stumbled on something that addresses the wandering mind-my own thoughts had trouble actually keeping still enough due to the length but what worthwhile information. These "tricks" are absolutely a great tool that stems also from neurolinguistic articles I've read of.

      The key is to REMEMBER to breath and be in the moment, when easily we are distracted.

      Hope you visit/rate my versatile hubs as well:)

      Thanks again.

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      Audrey Howitt 4 years ago from California

      I loved this and am sharing it!

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, tammyswallow. I'm glad you find this hub interesting. I've needed to make up techniques to compensate for my tendency to be scatterbrained, distracted, and daydreamy. I'll look for a chance to see recent Sherlock Holmes movies.

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      Tammy 4 years ago from North Carolina

      Wow! You certainly have a gift for philosophy. This is very interesting and I want to learn more about this art. It seems like the visualization technique used by Holmes in the new Sherlock Holmes movies. Very, very interesting!

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, CrisSp. I'm glad you like this hub. I tend to be scatterbrained and to indulge in daydreaming, so I need to put these techniques to use a lot.

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thank you, Made. I'm glad you like it.

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      CrisSp 4 years ago from Sky Is The Limit Adventure

      This is a perfect motivational read to start off the New Year with mindfulness and begin with a positive transformation in life.

      I feel the readers are left with some thought provoking statements on your conclusion on switching from one technique to another: "The instant you enter a moment, you are leaving it. Or it is leaving you. Wonder at the ever now flow of moments."

      The "glowing" part and its benefit is very interesting. Voted up, useful and very interesting.

      P.S. Olive Henry's video is very fascinating! What an inspirational woman she is!

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      Madeleine Salin 4 years ago from Finland

      Wow! This hub was an eye opener to me. There are so many different techniques for "being here now". I want to try the dancing right away. This is a hub I'm probably going to return to. Sharing and voting!

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, Hallowmyst.

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      Hallowmyst 4 years ago

      Wonderful. Fascinating. Thank you!

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      A 540-mile mindfulness walk is awesome.

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      Louisa Rogers 4 years ago from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico

      Hi BL,

      I don't teach meditation. I belong to a meditation group that is part of a larger zen center in Northern California. Our "satellite" group is very grassroots; we take turns leading, but in a very non-directive way, and there's no formal teacher. It's wonderful. There is no one technique recommended. I also live in Mexico, and belong to a meditation group here as well, "led" by a Japanese teacher except he does no active leading. Complete silence.

      I've done a lot of mindfulness walking, including the 540-mile Camino de Santiago and other long-distance walks.

      My husband has written more on mindfulness & meditation than I have. He's published several pieces in Tricycle, the main Buddhist magazine. I don't find meditation easy to write about, so I come at it through other topics!

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, Louisa. What meditation technique do you use and teach? Guided meditation? Have you written a hub about it? I did write a comment on your "enough" hub and also shared it. I must have neglected to click the Send or whatever button. I'll recreate it as best I can tomorrow.

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      Louisa Rogers 4 years ago from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico

      Hello B Leekley, Just discovered you via your fan mail (thanks!). I am a meditator and co-facilitate a meditation group. I am especially intrigued by the 'seeing ahead' technique, new to me. Mindfulness when I do it helps me with all kinds of compulsive tendencies (such as unnecessary eating and pretending to be busy). Thanks! Voted up & interesting. PS I got an email saying you'd commented on my "enough" hub, but there was no comment to be found!

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      Brian Leekley 4 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks lots, healthylife2. I'm glad you like it. I'm an enneagram 9 and have a tendency to daydream, and I use these various techniques to stay more in the present. Maybe sometime I'll add a video showing the technique "Life is an Opera".

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      Healthy Life 4 years ago from Connecticut, USA

      All I can say is WOW!! I know the value of living in the present and you provided so many techniques that people can actually follow regardless of the lifestyle. Even five minutes of stopping and simply focusing on your breath can be done anywhere and is a benefit. I also like the concept of focusing on the five senses or pretending to be on vacation. Very interesting description of being in a movie and focusing on being present. I guarantee I will be coming back to this hub many times. Voted up and shared!

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      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, the girls.

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      the girls 5 years ago from Los Angeles, California

      Your techniques are unique and effective. In sports/exercise alone, I couldn't think anymore if I am out of breath. The games does shift your concentration, especially when challenging and enjoyable. There is a board game called "Pictionary" where it allows to show the "child in me" by acting weird and laughing at the same time. Sharing :-)

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      Brian Leekley 5 years ago from Kalamazoo, Michigan, USA

      Thanks, glassvisage. I hope my suggestions are helpful. Please comment again in a few months and say which, if any, techniques (whether from this hub or from another source or discovered on your own) have helped you to live in the moment.