24 Feb 2018 17:57 IST

Learn to be in the present

Being focussed on the here and now makes us more effective and successful while feeling happier too

Most people tend to have trouble falling asleep. If you are one such person, have you ever analysed what happens between the moment you lie down and when you actually fall asleep? Those moments could last for a few minutes of even stretch to hours and are usually filled with thoughts racing around in the mind.

Invariably, the mind is reliving some incident from that day or earlier. In many cases the person would start to think about something in the future such as things to do the next day or worrying about something that is expected to happen in the coming days. Essentially, the mind is either in rewind or fast-forward mode!

There is an age-old suggestion that counting sheep usually helps a person fall asleep. This method has not, however, been validated and, in fact, has been challenged by a study which claims that counting sheep actually prolongs the time it takes to fall asleep.

However, the thought behind this proposed remedy is simply to get your mind to focus on the present. When the mind is engaged in the rewind or fast-forward mode, the person would often have a never-ending stream of thoughts where the mind is constantly jumping from one thought to another. On the other hand, if the person focuses the mind to be in the present this continuous thought stream might be controlled, and the mind relaxes.

This habit of being in the present will not only help in falling asleep faster but in other myriad ways as well. A few instances where being in the present is of enormous benefit to a person are:

Communication: One of the most common issues with regard to communication is that the recipient is usually processing the message with the intent to reply instead of being focused on understanding the same. When you listen to a person while actually planning your reply to them, you’re actually in fast-forward mode and definitely not in the present. Chances are that you would misunderstand what is being said and your response would end up being inappropriate.

Concentration: Everyone is engaged in multiple tasks daily, and most of them require a sharp focus to be completed effectively. Such concentration can happen only if the person is focused on what is being done at that moment instead of being distracted by something in the past or thinking about something expected in the future. The difference between success and failure in many cases is often due to this simple aspect of concentration or, in other words, being in the present.

There are several instances where being in the present helps a person to be not only more effective and successful but also helps them stay happy.

As is the case with anything important, this is easier said than done. I shall share some simple exercises in the next article that may help one cultivate the habit of being in the present.

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