How to: live in the present, not the past nor the future

Welcome to the second instalment in my "how to" series. This week, the focus is on centering the mind and bringing it back to the current moment and in the process, letting go of fear and stress.

I am a terrible worrier. I worry and stress about every little detail – how many hours are in a day, what I am going to have for lunch, whether I write to my grandmother enough. I get stressed out about exercising before I’m even at the gym, so much so that I can’t enjoy my bike ride there and appreciate the beautiful New York scenery.

Worrying is a terrible thing. It causes so much unnecessary angst. The worst part is that around 99 per cent of things we worry about never end up materialising, so all that time spent worrying is for nothing.

Lately I have been trying to centre my mind more and to bring it back to the present moment. It is incredible how the simple activity of stopping and appreciating where you are at an exact point in time can quiet your mind and make you relax one hundred per cent. Every time I find worries creeping into my mind, I bring myself to the present. I stop, breathe, appreciate my surroundings, the company I am with and the gifts I have in my life. Here are my top tips for living in the present:

Stop and smell the roses, literally

When was the last time you really slowed down? Learn to appreciate where you are at an exact point in time. Find beauty in everything. Smell those gorgeous flowers in your neighbour’s garden. Smile at that lady on the train you see every morning. Admire a stranger’s handbag/hairstyle/watch. Immerse yourself in the beauty of your surroundings and you will automatically negate your worries and anxieties.

Make it less about you

Worries beget worries. Naturally we worry about ourselves and our loved ones. Broaden your mind and begin to think of others. Become interested in the lives of others. Ask questions. Start conversations. Remember, you are not the only one carrying around the burden of stress. Sharing this burden, or asking someone else about his or her concerns can be a mutually beneficial exercise. It also may help put things into perspective for you both and make you realise that what a minute ago seemed like a catastrophe is actually nothing to be concerned about at all.

When all else fails…

Take it back to this one thought – is this worry or concern going to matter in one week? In one month? How about in one year? Are you going to die as a result of this worry occurring, or some task not getting completed? If the answer is no, which I highly suspect it will be, let it go, breathe, relax and once again bring your mind back to the present.