Recently I was lying outside near a lake with a dear friend of mine by my side. The sun was shining vibrantly above us and our bodies were held by the damp soft grass beneath us. We both had our noses stuck in books and would fluidly go in and out of conversation about interesting content we were reading. At one point, my friend looked over at me and smiled. She opened her mouth to speak and three small words fell out:
“This is it.”
Not quite understanding what she meant, I dug deeper and asked for further explanation. As we went back and forth in thoughts, I realized that she was speaking to the present moment. That this, us there reading, with our feet on the earth, the faint chatter of people sitting nearby, the smells, sights, sounds, tastes and feeling of what we were experiencing, this was all that mattered.
The concept of Now is nothing new to many of us, yet it can often be incredibly challenging in our fast-paced and highly stimulating reality to drop in and find the present moment. However, this practice is a key component of living a mindful life.
If we cannot become connected and clear with what is going on both inside of us and in our immediate surroundings while it is happening, it becomes virtually impossible to be in the moment.
In order to be in the Now, we need to pay attention to our bodies and get our (bare) feet on the ground. Here are my top five tips to begin cultivating presence and becoming grounded:
- Remove Distractions: Turn off technology, step away from stimulants, and close your eyes.
- Check-in With Your Body: Is it saying anything interesting to you when you really get quiet and start to listen?
- Notice Your Senses: Pay attention to what you smell, taste, see, hear, and feel.
- Observe Sensations: Scanning your body, what do you notice (hot/cold, open/contracted, tingly, particular areas that feel pain/strength)?
- Become Aware of Your Surroundings: Only after you’ve fully checked-in with yourself, begin to observe and become aware of what is going on around you.
- Engaging with Others: Take the time to be present with others, especially new friends. That means cultivating your own community. Connecting fully at the moment with others is one of the most grounding efforts that not only calms the mind but fills the soul.
Being is the natural, joy-filled state available to all of us. Thoughts about the past or future rip the present moment and often lead to suffering. Becoming grounded is our body’s natural ability to feel stable and connected to ourselves, in order to interact in a mindful and aware way with the world around us.
Interestingly enough, recent scientific research has even begun to explore the idea of “earthing,” a newer term for grounding, which is direct physical contact with the vast supply of electrons on the surface of the earth. As modern lifestyles separate us from regular body contact with our natural surroundings, many of us find ourselves struggling with stress, anxiety, depression or other forms of dis-ease.
When we reconnect with the earth we gain better sleep, reduced pain, higher levels of focus and concentration, and reduced feelings of being overwhelmed.
Practicing these skills, and everything suddenly becomes clear.