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Live in the Moment: 10 Ways to Instantly Be Present

Brian minored in philosophy in college and in the decades since has taken an occasional class in philosophy or religion.

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.

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, even when there is no need to be thinking.

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 especially wasteful of your mind and your time 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 your mind 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 you from welcoming, or even noticing, each present, gone-in-an-instant moment, with its opportunities for appreciation, productivity, and creativity.

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—attentively aware—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.

The best way to capture moments is to pay attention. This is how we cultivate mindfulness.

— Jon Kabat-Zinn

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

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.

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?

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.

Not Meditation

Some of the techniques I describe for being in the moment are also used 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 above are for use when going about your activities of the day. Regular meditation will increase the efficiency of the techniques described here, and the techniques described here will help bring into your active life the gains of 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 your breathing for a certain number of minutes, such as 20 or 30, and to do only that, returning to mindfulness of breathing whenever your mind strays. For present purposes, just a few seconds of mindful breathing may be sufficient to bring your mind from wandering in the past or future back to the present. Once back, you 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. Ah, I remember! It's that way. I'm watching for it."] There is nothing wrong with mentally wandering back or forward in time, when that's of help or for your entertainment. It's just that the present is when and where your life is an "on live" experience and not some mental re-run or preview.

While Mindfully Chatting on Her Cell Phone


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.

​11. A Bonus Way: Using Mel Robbins' 5 Second Rule As an Act Now Spark

​Not long ago I was taking a break from my chores and projects by watching YouTube videos of TED Talks, and I chanced to watch one featuring Mel Robbins titled "How to Stop Screwing Yourself Over". According to Mel's later speeches and interviews, that 2011 TED talk, given to a private audience, was her first public speech, When posted on YouTube, the video of the talk immediately went viral (over 14 million views so far) and led to Mel's soon becoming one of the most sought after public speakers in the USA.

​Near the end of that speech, starting at about 17:25, Mel, for the first time in public, told about her discovery and use of what she dubbed the '5 second rule'. She really doesn't in that speech say much in detail about it. Yet afterward, especially after her TED talk was posted on YouTube, she got feedback from thousands of persons around the world that the 5 second rule had helped them in multiple ways.

​It had worked for years for Mel, since the incident in 2009 when she discovered it, and she was getting flooded with anecdotes of its working for others, but she did not know why it worked. Posted on YouTube are a number of videos of speeches and interviews in which Mel Robbins tells the story of how she discovered the 5 second rule, what it is, what she and others have accomplished using it, and what she learned from consulting brain researchers and psychologists and reading their research studies as to why it works. See also her website https://melrobbins.com/ and her book The Five Second Rule. I bought and read a copy and keep referring back to it as I expand my uses of the 5 second rule.

How It Works

​The rule is this: Whenever you feel inclined to do something that you know is a good idea to do but that is uncomfortable, scary, or unfamiliar, in the few seconds before the part of your brain that wants to keep you on autopilot, doing what is familiar, unthreatening, and comfortable, floods your mind with negative expectations and with excuses and rationalizations for inaction, think to yourself, as though you were counting down to a rocket blast-off, "5-4-3-2-1!" and then, by intentional choice, do what you had an inclination to do.

Counting down to 1 interrupts the region of the brain that functions to repeat habitual routines and practiced motions and inhibit (such as with anxious, fearful thoughts and feelings) an intention to do what is unfamiliar and outside of your comfort zone, and the countdown "lights up" the brain's prefrontal cortex, used to focus, to decide upon a change in routine, or to take a deliberate, nonhabitual action.

​It interrupts the "when I get around to it" procrastination thinking habit.

​It interrupts the "nothing ventured, nothing rejected or criticized" thinking habit.

​It interrupts the "I want to stay in my comfort zone" thinking habit.

​And it prepares you mentally to get around to it, to venture to act, to step out of your comfort zone.

​Optionally, add "Go!" to the end of the countdown to 1. Or you might optionally think "Up!" (as in up out of bed), or "Stop!" (as in stop walking toward the refrigerator for a bedtime snack), or "Focus!" (as in put your mind on your task at hand), or "Geronimo!" (as in pick up the phone and make that call you've been 'going to' make), or "Decide!" (as in decide if you are full enough that it is time to stop eating breakfast), or whatever action word is appropriate to the occasion. Or just count down to 1 in your mind and act.

​How fast should the mental countdown be? I find that it works whether fast or slow and that I intuitively opt to count down slowly or quickly depending on the particular situation.

​How does this 'rule' pertain to being present?

​To be in the moment is to be attentively aware of your body and surroundings. So, what if you are in the moment smelling the roses and admiring their beauty but, instead of thus dawdling, your actual errand is to cut a bouquet of roses? Think, "5-4-3-2-1!" and, still in the moment, commence cutting.

Or suppose you are lying in bed in the morning, attentively aware of the comforting feel of your blankets, pillow, and mattress, but your intention is to get up and get going, not to stay in bed all day? Think, "5-4-3-2-1!", stand up beside your bed, and, attentively aware of your surroundings, of your body, and of your actions, start your day.

Or suppose you are conversing with someone and they are speaking, and you are in the moment, attentively aware of their beauty, their charming accent, their smile, the people nearby, the cup of coffee in your hand, the taste of coffee in your mouth, and you have no idea what's being said? Think "5-4-3-2-1-Listen!" and commence attentively listening.

​In her writings, speeches, and interviews, Mel Robbins tells how to use the 5 second rule to replace feeling fearful, anxious, nervous, apprehensive, or worried with feeling excited. This is a matter of how the brain interprets what the body is feeling. For instance, ​replace the ​thought: "Why did I say I'd make get out the vote calls for that admirable candidate? I feel too nervous!" ​with the thought: ​"5 4 3 2 1! I feel excited that that admirable candidate, thanks in​ ​part to my calls, might win the election!"

​You can live in the moment thinking about what you would do if you didn't feel anxious and nervous or you can live in the moment doing what makes you feel excited. The 5 second rule is a tool, a mental assist, that not only can help you switch from reveries to being in the moment but furthermore can help you switch from dawdling in the moment to taking chosen action, still in the moment, and can help you switch from experiencing the present moment as fearful to experiencing the present moment as exciting.

Alternatives to the 5 Second Rule

I've discovered that saying or thinking, "Shazam!" works likewise for me. It bursts me out of thinking into action—even if the action is just being again alertly aware of what at that moment is around me. I associate that word with the Captain Marvel comic books I read when I was a kid in the 1940s and 1950s.

And I've discovered that the simple physical act of smiling slightly to myself functions like thinking "5 4 3 2 1" or "Shazam!" to snap me out of a reverie or an on-automatic act or a state of indecision and into alert awareness of my here and now, ready to choose what next.


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.

This content is accurate and true to the best of the author’s knowledge and does not substitute for diagnosis, prognosis, treatment, prescription, and/or dietary advice from a licensed health professional. Drugs, supplements, and natural remedies may have dangerous side effects. If pregnant or nursing, consult with a qualified provider on an individual basis. Seek immediate help if you are experiencing a medical emergency.

© 2011 Brian Leekley


Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on March 02, 2018:

Thank you very much, Sean.

Ioannis Arvanitis from Greece, Almyros on February 28, 2018:

My Brother Brian, I want to express my respect to you

and my gratitude for this magnificent article!

It is so essential to offer your wisdom to the world with love,

like you did!

Thank you, and God bless you!


Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on July 15, 2017:

Thanks, vocalcoach.

Audrey Hunt from Idyllwild Ca. on July 10, 2017:

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!

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on August 24, 2016:

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

Michelle How on July 27, 2016:

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

Darcie French from BC Canada on March 16, 2016:

Thank-you for this peaceful hub :)

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on October 12, 2015:

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.

Prabhat Parimal from India on October 10, 2015:

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.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on August 07, 2015:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on August 07, 2015:

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.

Liz Elias from Oakley, CA on August 07, 2015:

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.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on April 24, 2015:

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.

Missy from The Midwest on March 26, 2015:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on March 17, 2015:

Thanks, Peggy W. Glad you like it.

Peggy Woods from Houston, Texas on March 17, 2015:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on March 12, 2015:

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".

Marlene Bertrand from USA on March 10, 2015:

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.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on February 03, 2015:

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.

Audrey Howitt from California on January 29, 2015:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on January 23, 2015:

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.

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on January 11, 2015:

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".

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on January 03, 2015:

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

Joe Poniatowskis from Mid-Michigan on December 26, 2014:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on November 24, 2014:

Thanks much for the compliment, askformore.

askformore lm on November 15, 2014:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on October 03, 2014:

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

Melanie Casey from Indiana on September 18, 2014:

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.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on June 16, 2014:

Thanks lots, Patsybell,

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on June 16, 2014:

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.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on June 16, 2014:

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.

Patsy Bell Hobson from zone 6a, SEMO on June 15, 2014:

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

Jaye Denman from Deep South, USA on June 15, 2014:

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++


C E Clark from North Texas on June 15, 2014:

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.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on May 28, 2014:

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.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on May 28, 2014:

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.

Dianna Mendez on May 28, 2014:

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.

Mona Sabalones Gonzalez from Philippines on May 28, 2014:

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!

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on May 03, 2014:

Thanks, Kathleen.

Kathleen Odenthal from Bridgewater on April 29, 2014:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on March 13, 2014:

Thank you, DonnaCaprio.

Donna Caprio Quinlan from Newburyport, MA on March 11, 2014:

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!

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on February 08, 2014:

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.

DreamerMeg from Northern Ireland on February 08, 2014:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on February 07, 2014:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on February 07, 2014:

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

georgescifo from India on February 05, 2014:

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

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on February 05, 2014:

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.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on February 03, 2014:

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.)

Eric Dierker from Spring Valley, CA. U.S.A. on February 02, 2014:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on January 27, 2014:

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

Christin Sander from Midwest on January 27, 2014:

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! :)

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on December 10, 2013:

Thanks lots, Audrey.

Audrey Selig from Oklahoma City, Oklahoma on December 10, 2013:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on October 23, 2013:

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.

Marlene Bertrand from USA on October 21, 2013:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on September 24, 2013:

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."

Jatinder Joshi from Whitby, Ontario, Canada on September 07, 2013:

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!

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on August 23, 2013:

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".

Dr Abby Campbell from Charlotte, North Carolina on August 14, 2013:

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. :-)

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on July 05, 2013:

Thanks, Kathryn.

Kathryn from Windsor, Connecticut on July 05, 2013:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on July 05, 2013:

Thanks, einavann.

elnavann from South Africa on July 05, 2013:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on July 04, 2013:

Thanks, brightforyou.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on July 04, 2013:

Thanks, Peg.

Helen Lewis from Florida on July 04, 2013:

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!

Peg Cole from Northeast of Dallas, Texas on July 04, 2013:

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!

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on April 04, 2013:

I'm glad you like it, kims3003.

kims3003 on April 03, 2013:

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.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on March 22, 2013:

Thanks, DDE.

Devika Primić from Dubrovnik, Croatia on March 21, 2013:

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.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on March 04, 2013:

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?

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on March 04, 2013:

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.

Kathi from Saugatuck Michigan on March 02, 2013:

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

Kathi from Saugatuck Michigan on March 02, 2013:

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)

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on February 23, 2013:

Thanks very much, Denise.

Denise Handlon from North Carolina on February 23, 2013:

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

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on February 05, 2013:

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

Mary Hyatt from Florida on February 05, 2013:

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.

Don A. Hoglund from Wisconsin Rapids on January 11, 2013:

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.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on January 04, 2013:

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.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on January 04, 2013:

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

ALUR from USA on January 02, 2013:

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.

Audrey Howitt from California on January 02, 2013:

I loved this and am sharing it!

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on January 01, 2013:

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.

Tammy from North Carolina on January 01, 2013:

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!

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on December 29, 2012:

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.

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on December 29, 2012:

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

CrisSp from Sky Is The Limit Adventure on December 29, 2012:

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!

Madeleine Salin from Finland on December 29, 2012:

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!

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on December 20, 2012:

Thanks, Hallowmyst.

Hallowmyst on December 19, 2012:

Wonderful. Fascinating. Thank you!

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on December 15, 2012:

A 540-mile mindfulness walk is awesome.

Louisa Rogers from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico on December 15, 2012:

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!

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on December 14, 2012:

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.

Louisa Rogers from Eureka, California and Guanajuato, Mexico on December 14, 2012:

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!

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on December 07, 2012:

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".

healthylife2 on December 07, 2012:

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!

Brian Leekley (author) from Bainbridge Island, Washington, USA on October 17, 2012:

Thanks, the girls.