What Even IS the Present Moment? And How Do You Stay In It?

What even IS the present moment and how do you build that awareness? Here’s exploring a deeply spiritual dilemma in a practical way.

It’s become easier to catch myself drifting away into thoughts and losing focus from the present moment. But even with this increased sense of awareness, it isn’t easy to stay present. As I learn and grow in my spiritual practices, I want to share some reflections with you and help you understand from my lens what even is the present moment. And then share some tips you can apply to stay more in the “now”.

Let’s begin by addressing what the present moment means to most people.

#1 – The present moment can feel unsafe for some people.

The reason we are not able to stay in the moment is because we get checked out and in live in our minds. This can happen for different reasons. For some people, they underwent physical trauma like bullying, sexual abuse or getting beaten up at home, which made their body feel unsafe.

trauma can take us away from the present moment

They may also have had a negative relationship with their body if they were constantly sick or lived in a lot of physical pain. As a consequence of any of these reasons, the mind and the imagination became a safe haven.

So, even when there’s no actual danger, many people just find it more comforting to be in their minds, because their relationship with their body hasn’t healed yet.

#2 – To others, the present moment is underwhelming.

I am grateful to not fall into the first category. However, I used to wonder why I’m so checked out, if it isn’t about safety for me. The truth is, growing up as an introverted only child, the present moment was BORING for me.

I often took refuge in my doll sets and books. So as much as I considered myself spiritual for reading all those heavy spiritual books, it wasn’t helping me get any more present.

reading and meditation can still sabotage our ability to stay present in the now

Even though I have a powerful imagination and it has contributed in the nourishing of my Third Eye energy centre, it took years to realize the fact that I don’t enjoy being alone if I don’t have something to do by myself. Even when I meditate, I am meditating on something. It isn’t without purpose.

So, if you’re like me, the present moment can be underwhelming to you. Especially if you’ve been raised in a predominantly masculine environment, where it’s always about do-do-do. It can become our nature to constantly be achieving or planning something in our heads.

So as a consequence, you might constantly be looking for ways to fill these spaces with something or someone. If you don’t find something in the physical, you check out and live in your headspace.

#3 – And then, to some, the present moment moment is simply uncomfortable.

For many of us, our inner critic is constantly evaluating us. We are worried if someone will like how we look, or if they’ll judge us. So, ironically, we constantly judge ourselves!

overthinking, what is the present moment

But where did this judgemental way of thinking come from? Most likely from some important people in your childhood who were constantly judging you. This way of living in the head has become a learned behaviour for you.

So when you are in the present moment, it can seem intimidating because you don’t know how to look at anything as a mere observer. You realize that there’s always some kind of chatter, some kind of tainted lens through which you’re experiencing the world.

If the present moment isn’t all of the above, what is it?

The present moment is exactly what is happening right now.

And now.

And now.

Even now.

Only now.

The humbling fact about the present moment is that it’s the only REAL thing happening, at any point of time. You see, if you’re not present, you’re living in your thoughts. And those thoughts don’t have tangibility. They might be from the past, but the past is also just some form of images being recycled in your head on a loop. Or they might be projections about the future, which hasn’t even happened yet.

This might be a shocker to you as you read these realizations. But breathe that in for a moment – if you’re not living in the present, you’re not really living at all. You’re physically present but disintegrated between the past, the future and somewhere in between.

Now what do you do with that piece of information? Don’t let it keep you in shock! Here are basic principles to help you understand what you can do to stay more present.

#1 – Teach the mind what it SHOULD do.

I know how confusing it can be, when you keep hearing things like “don’t think when you meditate”. Or are told to NOT be checked out. But then, what should you do?

There are simple mindfulness practices like breath-work, journaling and grounding which can help you focus on the present moment. All, with the intention of retraining your thoughts to come back “here’.

journaling, grounded

But it’s a muscle, and just like going to the gym, it takes conscious and continuous effort to build.

Just know that you don’t have to beat yourself up for not being able to stay present. Have awareness, and focus on what you should be doing, versus what you should not have done.

#2 – Integrate the past so that you’re not stuck there.

If you’ve undergone trauma, it can actually do you more harm to meditate. As meditation teacher and guest writer Clayton shared with us in this post, meditation practices are NOT meant for everyone. So, work with trauma specialists and integrate your past.

therapy, trauma, healing your past so you can become more present

As you integrate the past, you will become more comfortable and at ease being here, now. Only then, should you attempt to “come back to this moment”.

#3 – Heal your relationship with your body so that it’s safe to be here.

In order to heal your relationship with your body, understand the importance it has to begin with. It’s not just a body that’s meant to digest your food or take you from place A to B. The ego-mind would like to believe that it’s the most important aspect of who you are. But that’s not true, and you should work towards discovering that for yourself.

Your body is a beautiful vessel that allows you to have your spiritual awakening. Here’s a foundational post to help you understand the spiritual significance of your physical body.

You can consider taking on Yoga practices (not the westernized, aerobic version) that focus on slowing down and really becoming present with the body. I know that even Tai-Chi has the same effect in bringing you back to the body, and can be deeply spiritual if you’re open to it.

If you’re not a fan of Yoga or Tai-Chi, play any sports. The amount of present moment awareness it requires to not get hit in the face by a shuttlecock in the badminton court is deeply spiritual in itself! 🙂

#4 – Come to the present moment afresh.

I talked about the “now” being boring. And even as adults, if we live on autopilot, walking into the same office or same house everyday can be dulling. I invite you to try this on with me – come to the present moment afresh.

What if you arrived at work or to your bedroom every single day as if it were your first time? How would you see it differently?

I used to get bored on walks. And then one day, a conversation with my Forest Bathing friend Katriina, really changed my way of thinking. She told me that she walks through the same forest every single time and it looks different. She was right.

I tried that out and haven’t found a single walk boring ever since! It’s because now, I can appreciate the ways in which the sun changes angle, the water levels dip and rise, the different birds and animals that come with each season, and so on.

nature, present moment awareness outdoors

I also applied this to my workspace and realize that the energy of my room seems to move up and down with me. Even though everything is inanimate, there are subtle changes.

When I’m present, I can see when there’s a small layer of dust collecting on the surface, and notice when the carpet is vacuumed. Sometimes when I walk into the room afresh, I see a book on my shelf that I had completely forgot I had ever bought!

So, you see, the present moment is not boring if we are invested in it. If we are in reverence of it. Of course, this is easier said than done, but try it on. See how that lands for you, and if it makes each day significantly different, no matter how similar it was from the day before.

#5 – Ask yourself, what are your thoughts even about?

Science reveals to us that when we’re on autopilot mode, we tend to think the same, old train of thoughts on repeat. A majority of our thinking is redundant. Well, knowing what we know, how can we reduce the redundancy?

By analyzing what it’s about.

Are you constantly looping in thoughts about work, relationships or money? Most likely. If you didn’t have all those things to think about, what would you do with your time instead?

journaling and self reflection to become more mindful and tune into the present moment

As you gain awareness and step off that autopilot train, continue asking yourself what would life be like, if you could just enjoy it for what it is? And don’t answer the question logically, but this time, go out and let all of you, mind, body and soul, really experience the answer to that question!

Concluding Thoughts

It’s not that being present is hard, it’s that we’re not used to the idea of present moment awareness. And when we begin to experience more of it, we can feel the difference between living in our heads, and living in real life. You become your own example and keep working your way up.

Remember, the present moment is rarely as boring, scary or as uncomfortable as you grew up believing it to be. Try coming back “here” more often. You might fall in love with it. 🙂

Ready to take your healing deeper? Let’s talk about it! You’re welcome to setup a complimentary 30-minutes call using this form, and learn how you can set your spiritual plans into action. Don’t see a time slot? Send me an email here instead and let’s chat.

5 Unique Ways to Understand & Relax Your Overthinking Mind

What does spirituality suggest for overthinking? And what is psychology’s tips for overcoming overthinking? Here’s a diverse list of ideas!

This article is by no means an exhaustive list, but just a few different angles to explain and slow down the overthinking mind. I hope to keep coming back and adding more to this list, as I explore more avenues of self-healing in my own journey back home 🙂

Diving straight into the different frameworks and how you can use them to understand and overcome overthinking.

#1 – If you’re overthinking, your chakras might be out of alignment.

The ancient eastern philosophy of the Chakra System (energy centres of the body), is a great way to understand what happens when energy gets blocked in different parts of our subtle body.

And one way to look at overthinking, is to see it as overusing and obsessively fuelling your third eye, the chakra of imagination and visualization.

So when you’re daydreaming, living in the past/future, or are cooking stories about life, know that your lower chakras are not being fully utilized. And as a consequence of that, you have moved out of the physical plane to living in the mental plane.

woman holding light string in a dark room, ream, imagination, third eye chakra, checked out of the present moment, fantasy
To get back to the present moment, we always want to start at the base of our Chakra System, at the root chakra, to ground ourselves. As energy moves up from the base of the spine, gently moving through every energy centre, we show up more fully.

A simple technique I teach in my Chakra System Workshop, is to practice using all five senses to come back to the moment. This helps because our five senses are our first source of interaction with the physical world.

Try using the following prompts, and see how it makes you feel:

  • Look around you, and identify 3 different things you can see. Note the colour, the shape of each thing, being fully present with what your eyes are experiencing.
  • Take a deep breath, and become aware of 3 distinct things you can smell. Maybe it’s your clothes or hair, or the smell of an old book. Ground yourself with your sense of smell.
  • Touch 3 different surfaces, being fully present with the feeling of touch. What insights are these surfaces giving to you?
  • Close your eyes, and see if you can tune into your sense of hearing to identify 3 different sounds taking place right now. Notice how your mind had beautifully blocked these sounds out previously, but how your nervous system was still being effected by them.
  • And lastly, take a moment to feel into the taste of your mouth. If you want to, you can self-hypnotize yourself to imagine that you’re eating something sour, like Serena had us do in her hypnotherapy workshop.

Once you’ve tried this out, see how you feel. Are you more present and aware of what’s happening right now?

Another great technique to self-soothe and bring you back to the moment is to lie down on the ground and take a few deep breaths in. It works wonders for many people, give it a try!

#2 – Your overthinking can tie into your ‘gunas‘.

Let’s pull out some more wisdom from the eastern world. In Vedanta, an ancient Indian school of thought, there’s often talk about a person’s gunas (Sanskrit for qualities).

In Vedanta, they say that each person is a mix of three qualities –

  • Sattva, the quality of balance, stillness, selflessness, positivity, etc;
  • Rajas, the quality of passion, individualism, movement, etc;
  • Tamas, the quality of lethargy, delusion, dullness, etc.

When we are overthinking, we typically become very stagnant and frozen in thought. As we spiral down in endless thinking, our tamas quality reveals itself. It’s as if a person energy shrivels like a prune! They may lose all desire to pursue the situation because they’ve drained themselves of the sattva and rajas.

overthinking, overwhelmed, dejected, sadness, immobile, unwilling to do anything
If you find yourself immobile and losing all inspiration, as a starting point, it’s good to remember that you still have something inside that is inspired. You do have sattva, and with your willingness, you can call it into action.

This first bit is the awareness stage of your gunas, and how you are not limited to just one way of being.

And from there, a good practice is to look at these downward spiralling thoughts and ask yourself – what kind of thoughts inspire me instead? See if you can move your energy up through choosing different quality of thoughts.

If you choose thoughts that serve you, you can move into rajas. If you choose thoughts that serve the highest good in the situation, you move into sattva.

This teaching is piggybacking on another idea that the Buddhists share, about the ten worlds within us. The idea even there is that heaven and hell are inside of us. And we can pick the state of mind we want to be in. I’ve made a short video sharing more on this reflection.

So, in essence, we can choose to move out of our overthinking ways, if we are consciously working to change this.

#3 – Cognitive behavioural therapy looks at it this way.

I love when psychology explains our mind with analogies. Here is one of my favourites that helped me learn more about overthinking.

Think of your mind, like a car driving on the road. When we get stuck on a thought, it’s like we’re running the car down a steep hill with our foot off the brake. As over-thinkers, we forget that we have the choice to hit these brakes, to come out of thinking.

overthinking is like driving a car without knowing where the brakes are

So if we keep spiralling down in our thoughts, we may find that it becomes very difficult to stop the car. After one point, gravity is working against the car and no amount of breaking will stop the vehicle. So what do you do? You jump out of the car to save your life.

In the same capacity, if you overthink yourself into really detrimental situations, jump out of them. Jump out of your mind, producing a shock-effect. Completely change your track by physically moving away and doing something else. For example:

  • Get up and go for a walk to get a change of scenery and new inspired energy;
  • Dance and shake off the immobilizing thoughts in your mind;
  • Every time you overthink, commit to doing something silly, like going to the mirror and sticking your tongue out at yourself!

The best thing about overthinking is that we may not be able to regain control over our mind, but we can always use the body as a the vessel to drive in new energy.

#4 – You might be overthinking the thoughts that aren’t even yours.

Huh? Well, have you ever questioned where thoughts come from?

The truth is, many people don’t realize that thoughts aren’t their’s. We don’t create them, they simply arise and fall. Don’t believe me?

Do a quick check-in with yourself – what was the source of your thought right now? Was it an external stimuli, or did you create the thought yourself? What about that other thought you were indulging in from before? What was the origin there?

As spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle also explains, thoughts are like energy bubbles. They are hovering around everyone, and if we pick a thought and latch on to it, we enter into a loop of thinking! It’s interesting if you reflect on this idea. I talk more about it in this article about telepathy.

And many times, our ways of thinking are learned behaviours. We pick up from people around us and we make the innocent mistake of thinking that these ways are ours. If you’re sensitive to people’s thoughts and energy, you might enjoy practicing this free energy releasing tool.

#5 – You might be overthinking the opposite of what you want.

I want to share a personal story at this point. I’ve had this experience while driving, where we cross an intersection and my mind will create an image of another vehicle crashing into mine. This is scary, and definitely wakes me up if I’ve been a bit zoned out.

black car on brown sand during daytime

For a while, I never understood this and wondered if I was going crazy! But it makes sense that our mind creates the opposite of what we want, so that we are fuelled to create a reality that does not allow this mind-made image to come true. In this case, my mind tells me to drive carefully, and to not let an accident happen.

This isn’t really effective, because we end up buying into the opposite image. We actually believe it will happen. I know better than that now, but for a good few times, I thought I was having a prophetic moment. I’m glad I didn’t!

And the truth is, the mind is a bit wonky like that. It thinks fear-mongering will prepare us to do better. Can’t blame the mind though, we’ve all been taught to live out of fear, and to only aspire for better because we don’t want the worst to happen to us.

So, what can we do instead? We can retrain the mind to create positive images. Such positive imagery is also called visualization, and what people use to manifest a better reality. Here’s a beautiful workshop that spiritual teacher, Carleen Marie conducted for the tribe, which walks you through a guided spiritual manifestation process.

Concluding Thoughts

In every single idea above, the first step is always to have awareness of your overthinking patterns. The more aware you become, the more distance you’ll be able to create between you and your thoughts.

But sometimes, it can be tricky to not identify with our thoughts. We get very consumed in what we’re telling ourselves. You’re not the only one who gets stuck and forgets to off-board their thought-train.

If you find it challenging to apply these ideas, you can consider working with someone professionally to help you identify your blind spots.

In today’s day and age, coaching is not a luxury, but a necessity for those that want to accelerate their self-realization. I am happy to be of service, if you feel called to work with me. You can setup a complimentary coaching session with me here.

That said, know that we are all a work in progress. Don’t beat yourself up for it, if you haven’t mastered an old lesson yet. We are all getting there, one step at a time. 🙂

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How To Overcome Being Inconsistent With Spiritual Practices

Why do we become inconsistent with spiritual practices like meditation and yoga? Here are some ideas and tips to help you get back on track.

As unique as our spiritual journeys are, the ups and downs that we experience are sometimes very similar! One of the patterns many people display after a few months of spiritual awakening is that they become inconsistent with spiritual practices.

So a person that may have originally meditated for hours everyday now feels like they are procrastinating and can’t bother to meditate. This person was me, by the way. 🙂

But this procrastination can feel very confusing and at times we are scared we will lose our spiritual progress. The truth is, you’re not alone if your switch has flipped and you’re struggling to follow through with your spiritual routine.

Here are different ideas to help you rebuild your spiritual practice in a way that’s more regular and fool-proof. This article is a dedication to my lovely client Bhavana, for asking these questions and compelling me to put my thoughts together on the subject.

Ways to Overcome Being Inconsistent With Spiritual Practices

Here’s what you need to understand about your behaviour flipping in this way.

#1 – Your connection with the Universe has evolved.

In the initial stages of your awakening, you might have been doing all the spiritual things like meditation, yoga, chanting, prayer, etc to connect with the spiritual side. And at this stage in your journey, you are already feeling more connected. Your head is a lot more clear and it no longer feels like you’re just doing anything to keep your head above the water. You’re floating!

after initial stages of spiritual journey we are floating so its natural for us to become inconsistent with our spiritual practices

So the initial struggle and fire that had fuelled the need to do these spiritual practices regularly has cooled. And that’s a good thing! Now that you’re more evolved in your connection with the Universe, it’s time to see what works for you to deepen that spiritual connection.

See if you can start just one habit that makes you feel more aligned internally. We don’t have to do all the things, just see what helps you at this point in your journey.

For instance, I used to meditate 1-2 hours everyday in the beginning because I felt like I needed that. I would also spend countless hours reading spiritual books! Now, as a way to be more aligned, I like to journal daily and just meditate 10-15 minutes occasionally.

So the first fact you should understand is that you will keep evolving and your spiritual needs will be different at every stage. And talking about your needs brings me to point number two.

#2 – Your journey is like a pendulum swinging to find its centre.

When you first started the inner work, you were at one extreme end trying to be “too spiritual”. Now, once again, you’re unconsciously trying to “be more human” by not doing those things.

That’s just the way the soul works with the ego-mind to bring equilibrium. What goes up must come down, and what swings right must come left to balance.

its normal to be inconsistent with spiritual practices because its like a pendulum swinging to find balance between spirituality and human life

We want to find our centre, where we can be both spiritual and human in a day. So don’t worry about not being spiritual enough right now – focus on how you can enjoy human things in a more spiritual way. As I often say to people that are overwhelmed by all the changes from their awakening, “too be more spiritual, just be more human”.

And as the wonderful client and seeker, Nidhi shared with me, “I have identified practices that work for me and I stick to them. In one of Vivekananda’s books, he has said that the two extremes of anything usually look the same like no light and extreme light actually appear to be the same! But experience tells us that they are different.

I am feeling this to some extent. Everything is same but consciousness of the present moment is increasing and also the awareness that there is nothing else but this moment. I feel at peace with this realization sinking deeper and deeper within me.”

This peace that Nidhi mentions is her centre. And the process of finding the centre goes by many terms, like consolidating, internalizing or embodying spiritual practices. I’ve shared a few practical tips here of how you can also internalize and feel at more ease, without always “doing” spiritual stuff.

#3 – So far, it was like flirting with the idea of being spiritual.

It’s true for everything – we take time to gauge the benefits before we commit deeper into anything. The moment you began becoming inconsistent with your spiritual practices, if you felt compelled to bring the routine back, it’s your subconscious mind’s way of letting you know that the practices were working for you.

But maybe something about the practices was off. That’s why you stopped. Then, this purely requires a behavioural psychology level approach. Which could mean applying different strategies in rebuilding your routine.
morning routine, design your spiritual practice

So for example, it could mean that you were meditating at a time that you no longer want to because something else requires your attention now. So just move meditation into a different part of the day.

Or maybe, the length of your meditations was too long and you don’t want to do that on a daily basis. Then see if you can switch that up, and do longer ones only on Sundays?

The point is that the reason we stop doing things is because something isn’t working for us. It might take you a minute to figure out what that is for you, and why you stopped. But remember, if you feel the urge to resume, then it’s a strategy that needs to be changed. And not necessarily meaning anything about you as a seeker not being “consistent” enough.

#4 – You might be feeling more lonely in these practices.

I got overwhelmed at several points in my journey when I felt like I was alone and I was the only one who cared about these things. It was beginning to become tiring to have a spiritual lifestyle that people around didn’t feel necessary or couldn’t relate to.

What helps most spiritual practitioners is to have satsang, which loosely translates to sacred community in Sanskrit.

its important to have a spiritual tribe

In June, our tribe did a week-long sprint to tackle their spiritual goals and use the space for accountability. Somebody focused on yoga, some practiced gratitude and others rekindled meditation sessions.

The takeaway is that when you surround yourself by people that echo what you want for yourself, it feels easier to keep doing those things. See if you can find an “accountability partner” or if you’d like, you can join our beautiful tribe and connect with spiritual seekers there.

#5 – Seasons change, so should you.

Spirituality, as they say, isn’t about sitting on the yoga mat. It’s what you do when you get out there and rejoin that chaos, which is a good indicator for you to see your progress.

When we’re doing inner work, we’re focused on our feminine energy. We are soft, surrendered and allowing the Universe to happen to us. But we can’t just hide behind the inner work forever!

In times where you’re propelled out of your spiritual practices, see it as an opportunity to take what you’ve learned out into the real world. It’s now time for you to step into your masculine energy and co-create the changes that will make your life more spiritual.

spiritual practices, masculine feminine balance

In this way, when you go out there and test the waters with your new insights, you’re able to return more gracefully and see where more work is required.

This ebb and flow is the natural progression and how we can embody both the spiritual and human sides of our existence.

Concluding Thoughts

I hope this answers some of your concerns and gives you insight on why we might become inconsistent with our spiritual practices. The truth is – we all learn to recalibrate our path, even if it’s rocky for a while.

And you’ll be able to do that too! I am right here if you need someone to talk to though. Shoot me an email or setup a time to chat, no obligations.

Happy coming back home, lovely soul! 🙂

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