There’s a famous quote attributed to the Dalai Lama that goes, “There are only two days in the year when nothing can be done – one is called yesterday and the other is called tomorrow.” It seems so simple, yet most of us find it difficult to live in the present. Constant deadlines and to-do lists make us slaves to the future; regret and nostalgia keep us chained to the past. But learning to live in the now has real health benefits. Research shows that mindfulness therapy, a practice that includes training the mind to focus on today, is effective in reducing anxiety, depression and stress.
“We have to train our ability to regulate our attention and emotions so that our thinking doesn’t cascade into the future or the past.”
Being conscious of life as it unfolds takes practice, says Dr. Patricia Rockman, director of education and clinical services at the Centre for Mindfulness Studies in Toronto. “We have to train our ability to regulate our attention and emotions so that our thinking doesn’t immediately cascade into the future or the past.” Fortunately, it can be done. Here are five exercises and tips to help you live in the here and now.