A trick how to have immediate happiness: try to think of a moment in your life when you were truly happy, and relive that memory as vividly as you can. Perhaps that moment was a walk on a full moon night, or a beautiful sunset, or the birth of your child. Whatever it was, chances are you were completely immersed in the present, without thinking of the past or future. Happiness lives only in the present moment. ‘Here and now is the motto of our soul’ spiritual teacher Sri Chinmoy explains. Here are five ways to connect to the precious present.
1. Breathe consciously
Our breath can be a very powerful tool to connect us with the present. If we can become conscious of our breathing, the breath itself will refresh us and give us the awareness of the here and now. Sri Chinmoy offers the following simple exercise for conscious breathing: while walking for five steps breathe in and for five steps breathe out very regularly. After a few minutes you will feel new energy and a sense of ‘presentness’.
2. Observe your surroudings
According to spiritual teacher Jiddhu Krishnamurti we can discover the truth about life and ourselves when we learn the art of observing. To observe means giving something your full attention without passing judgement. Try to tune your eyes and ears to whatever happens in front of you, and do not allow your mind to intervene. You will find the present moment enveloping you and teaching you something valuable about the magic of life. ‘Everything is your teacher,’ Krishnamurti said. ‘A dead leaf, a bird flying by, a scent, a tear, the rich, the poor, people that cry, the smile of a woman, the pompousness of a man.’
It is our mind that constantly takes us away from the present by flooding us with thoughts about the past or the future. To be sure: the past is dust and the future doesn’t exist. It’s only the present that is real. By virtue of meditation we can make our mind calm and quiet. Then we will see that thoughts are no longer rushing in to distract us from the present. If we can learn how to meditate it will help us to be more conscious of and present in the here and now. As a result we will worry less and be happier and more fulfilled.
Singing is often a spontaneous expression of happiness. In many religions and spiritual paths singing is used as a vehicle to connect to a higher or deeper reality within us, which we can call our soul. Singing is also said to stem from the right side of our brain, the side that houses creativity, spontaneity and intuition. These are all friends of the here and now. So if you don’t want to remain a prisoner of your thinking mind, the sing, smile and be happy.
5. Zone In On Newness
According to our mind everything we see is old. But if we live inside our heart we will feel that life is full of newness and freshness. Children always live in the heart. That’s why to them everything is new, and they are always happy. Oldness leads to the past, but newness connects us to the magic of the present. As Sri Chinmoy says, “In newness there is the hope and the promise that we will be complete. Oldness can never embody the complete reality. It is the ever-transcending newness that will carry the message of completion.” Try to consciously see and experience new things in your life every day. Observe a bird perched on a branch in front of your window, admire the subtle colour of the morning sky, visit a street you never visited before, talk to a stranger on the bus. Newness will keep you alive and kicking in the here and now.