10 Ways to Remind Yourself to Get Present
“Bring little gaps of consciousness into your day” — Eckhart Tolle
The only moment that matters is the magical moment of Now. Why would you want to be anywhere else?
Well, sometimes it’s necessary. The past is a great teacher. It’s necessary to step into the future to plan. However, most of us would benefit from spending much more time in the present moment than we currently do.
There are various ways to get present. Spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle’s favorites are
- Ask yourself, “Am I still breathing?” and come back to your breath
- Feel the aliveness in one part of your body, then move to another part
- Sense everything that is not in the room you are in — the space not taken up by you, others, or the furniture
- Hear the silence when someone is speaking — the pauses between the words and the sentences
It’s easy to forget to step into presence. The mind spends so much time replaying the past on an endless loop. It also spends considerable time focused on what it wants, which means it is in the future.
Here are 10 reminders you can set up in your everyday environment to direct yourself back to the present.
Place a reminder at the top of your to-do list
How do you keep your to-do list?
I keep mine in Evernote, in a note called “To do / To journal.” It keeps me aware of everything I want to get done that day and that week, with regards to my spiritual practice and my writing career (I consider the two to be closely related). At the top of the journal I placed this quote:
As much as possible, take one or two conscious breaths to bring little gaps of consciousness into your day.
That’s a quote from Eckhart Tolle, from the excellent 10-part podcast he did with Oprah Winfrey on his book A New Earth. I check that to-do note 10 to 20 times a day, so it’s a perfect place to stick a reminder.
Place a reminder on your work monitor
A sticky note with “PRESENCE” or “Get Present” on your monitor will remind you to return to consciousness throughout the day.
If such a note would draw suspicion from your boss that you don’t have your mind on your work, call the note “Update Microsoft Excel Formulas” or whatever would seem to fit well. As long as you know that the note really means “take a moment to get present,” it’s still as effective.
If this reminder causes you to get present even once an hour at work, it’s a fabulous addition to your practice.
Place a reminder on your refrigerator — or in your refrigerator
This is another place most of us look frequently throughout the day.
You could put a sticky note on your refrigerator door, or write a reminder on your message board if you keep one on the front of your fridge.
If you tend to ignore what’s on your refrigerator door, though, you might be better served to put a reminder inside, next to the food.
The reminder could be a standard “Get Present,” or it could be something more along the lines of “Eat Mindfully.”
Wear a reminder when you work out
Working out is one of those activities when your mind has time to wander. That makes it an excellent time to remind yourself to come back to the present. Sticky notes don’t make much sense during a workout, so why not use something you can wear as a reminder?
A few years ago, I went out for St. Patrick’s Day, and the liquor distributor was handing out free swag. I scored a green fuzzy wristband. That sort of thing is the perfect wearable presence reminder. As long as you’re clear why you have it on, you can let it bring you back to consciousness again and again.
Place a reminder in the car
Being present and in the moment while you drive is recommended by 9 of 10 driver education teachers. The 10th would probably recommend it too, but she was too busy playing with her phone to respond.
Just kidding… I’m sure you understand what I’m saying, though. The mind tends to wander into the past and future when driving. Bringing it back to the presence not only invites consciousness in, but also makes you a safer driver.
Besides, if you’re present, you’ll find that you discover things on your drive that had faded into the background before — a new restaurant, a park you hadn’t previously noticed. Driving, like so many other things we do, is a process. Presence helps you enjoy the process.
Place a reminder in your bathroom
The bathroom is another place we visit frequently. It’s also a place where our minds tend to go on autopilot. We already know how to shower. We already know how to brush our teeth. So our mind goes off to play in the past or future. Why not bring it back?
You could write a presence reminder in crayon on your bathroom mirror. If you’d prefer to have a reminder with you in the shower, check this out — it’s a waterproof notepad.
Never Miss an Idea With This Breakthrough Invention
A clean way to record “A-ha” moments
Pick something to be your reminder when you walk
You can have fun with this. If there are a lot of cars driving through your neighborhood, make a rule with yourself that every time you see the letter P (for “presence”) on a license plate, it’s a reminder to get present.
If you walk through someplace quieter, let an element of nature be your reminder. For instance, you could take a moment to get present every time you see a squirrel.
Our minds tend to wander when we walk, especially if we have headphones on. Those little returns to the present moment will enhance the quality of your experience.
Make a reminder your phone wallpaper
Create an image reminding you to get present (Canva is a good resource) and save it as the wallpaper on your phone’s lock screen. Who doesn’t check their phone 50 or 100 times a day?
Alternately, you can do the same for your desktop or laptop computer’s wallpaper. If you’re like me, though, this idea may not be worth it. I keep so many apps and tabs open that I only see my computer’s wallpaper when I reboot.
Use a mindfulness app
Apps like Mindfulness Bell can remind you to step into the present moment. They can be set up to remind you according to a specified schedule, or they can be set to remind you at random intervals throughout the day.
Randomness, by the way, adds an awesome dimension to your spiritual practice. Here’s an article I wrote about that:
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Place a reminder on your bedroom ceiling
The first thing I do when I wake up is a morning gratitude practice, and presence is a big part of that. If you want to get in the habit of stepping into consciousness very first thing, before you even get out of bed, you could print out a reminder and tape it to your bedroom ceiling.
If it’s still dark when you wake up, you can put a motivational image on your phone and project it on the ceiling using these steps.
The whole point of this exercise is to insert frequent reminders to get present into your environment.
If you are able to remind yourself to step into presence even 10 times a day, congratulations — you are doing much better than most people. If you can get present 20 times a day, all the better still.
The overall goal is to make presence a habit, to live in consciousness as much as possible. If you can find a few reminders on this list to work toward that, fantastic.
Do you have other ways to remind yourself to get present? Let me know in the comments.
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