I recently went to Spain and had a really nice time there. I could confirm to myself the importance of disconnecting from the chatting mind and reconnecting with the experiences in the now. I have this mental photo of a particular moment where I was looking at the moon and the stars and nothing more existed in that instant. Every time I recall that moment I feel at peace. I bet you also have a mental photo like this one :)
That is easy to apply when we are on a trip, right? because we are actually willing to do so in order to enjoy and get the best out from our holidays. But what about our daily life? can we at least for a few seconds reconnect with the present? This is where mindfulness as a tool comes in.
At the 2017 TED conference NYU psychologist Adam Alter presented bar graphs showing data for how people spend an average workday in 2007, 2015, and 2017. Turns out that we spend our precious remaining free time — a period of just a few hours -- looking at a screen. In that free time we do many of the things that make us humans and it is important for our mental health to have them. That means that in our daily life we have the opportunity to pay attention to the simple things like tasting the coffee, washing our hands, feeling the fresh air in the morning or walking home. These might be simple activities but that doesn't make them less meaningful than a nice sunset on the beach. The enjoyment of those instants is a choice we have to make every day.
Psychologist Rick Hanson says that if we hang out with these positive experiences for 10 seconds or more, the experience gets transferred from short-term to long-term memory, meaning we can more easily recall it later.
Our body is the means through which we can feel these experiences using our senses. From this we can build great memories that will help us to reconnect when we forget the present moment. When I choose to bring that mental picture of that instant in Spain I don't miss being there and I don't feel sad because I'm not there now. Instead I bring the essence of that moment to my present as a reminder of how nice it is to pay attention to the here and now.