What were you doing before reading this? If you can’t remember, it could be because you were multitasking. Responding to messages while making coffee, scrolling and watching TV, calling friends while cooking dinner – why do one thing when you can do two?
In a culture where progress and productivity are prized, our time has become commodified. Its primary value is to complete tasks. Being means “doing”. The time to be present in a moment and fully conscious of what is happening has been edged out.
What does living consciously mean?
“Consciousness is about an awareness of the present moment,” says psychotherapist Monica Haughey of the School of Conscious Living. Most people treat the present moment as if it were an obstacle that they need to overcome, but the present moment is life itself, says Haughey, drawing from the writings of spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle.
“So often, we are planning what happens next or ruminating about the past and we are missing the moment we have,” says Haughey.
Simply put, living more consciously is about bringing intention and awareness into all aspects of your life.
What are the benefits?
The more we can live in the present moment, the more we can tune in to how we are feeling and what we truly need, says Haughey.
“Our body is often giving us information, but we are too busy to listen,” she says. Endless input and output without pause can dull our ability to listen to ourselves and our intuition.
You can continue plugging away in a bad job, a bad relationship or with bad habits simply because you are not giving yourself the time to stop.
“By being more conscious, we become more aware and make better decisions,” says Haughey.
“Being more conscious also helps us to become more aware of our conditioning and limiting beliefs that can hold us back in life,” says Haughey. “Recognising that we have these can be the first step to loosening their grip.”
Ever watched a child at play? Whether it’s building Lego or playing tag, they are thoroughly absorbed and totally present in the moment. Adults have bigger to-do lists, of course, but you start to live more consciously by focusing on just one thing at a time.
If you find your thoughts drifting away from the task at hand, or you start to feel the pull of social media intrude, simply bring your attention back to what you are doing.
“Some practitioners recommend counting as we breathe in and out, and seeking to make the out-breaths longer,” says Haughey. This can help bring our thoughts back to the present moment.
Spend time in nature
Building in pockets of time or opportunities to be more conscious can remind us of how good it feels to be in the moment.
“Connect with the pets in your life and notice how they model presence,” says Haughey. “Nature is also a great teacher and can really bring us into ourselves and the present moment. Use your senses to see, feel, smell and allow yourself to savour the experience.” Make a walk in the woods a time for self and not selfies.
Choose relationships wisely
Some relationships buoy you up, others do little for your emotional well being or self-worth. Not everyone is worthy of your time. Living more consciously means spending time with those who encourage and support you and with whom you can be fully present as yourself, without having to be vigilant or on guard.