The Deva’s in the details – 5 ways to stay present


When I was in graduate school, we studied about personality and anxiety disorders extensively.  As I’d struggled with anxiety myself, I was always fascinated by the techniques we’d learned at the time to help people over come acute panic attacks.  And I’ve become fascinated with how ‘new’ psychology methods are nothing more than ancient yogic practices of living fully.

One of the techniques we learned involves talking the person through an exercise in noticing detail.  For example, if you’re in the middle of an anxiety attack you would stop what you’re doing and name ten things that are blue.   This simple act can pull you out of your head at that moment and into the present.

5 ways to stay present

Rather than wait until anxiety swallows you, I thought I’d compile a list of ways to remain in the moment that bridge the gap of anxiety management to everyday living.  Here are 5 ways to bring you closer to your inner divinity and bliss by living more presently:

1. Touch stuff.  Seriously, tactility is something we are dangerously moving away from in society.   For example, if you find your mind wandering in the shower while you’re getting ready for your day, press your cheek against the cold tile wall.  You’ll instantly be brought back from the depths of your deliberation.   Touch the ground with your hands, walk through the grass in your bare feet — make contact.
2. Look around.  I mean really LOOK around.   Everyday, life literally passes us by while our minds are 15 minutes ahead of where we are.  If you know you’ll have difficulty really looking at the detail, make a game out of it.  Before you get in the car, set a goal of seeing 5  new places on the way to work.  You’d be surprised what you miss everyday.  Or look at a leaf and try to notice every detail of it’s design.
3. Smell the roses.  The sense of smell is an amazing gift.  Scents can remind us of fond memories of course, but depending on what else is around, what mood you’re in, time of year, etc. a scent can be different each time you experience it.  Experience the smell of a gardenia or puppy breath (my favorite) as if it’s the first time.
4. Listen to the silence. It’s hard to hear the melody of silence amidst the sounds of traffic, background conversation, and construction.  But see if you can listen intently enough to hear the silent spaciousness behind it all.  If that’s a challenge, listen to the silent pause between your own inhalation and exhalation without changing your breath.
5. Taste life. Rather than co-eat while working or watching television, make it a point to sit down to your breakfast, lunch and dinner and notice the flavor and texture of your meal and how the foods mingle together.  You’ll probably eat slower and have less heartburn too.

If this list looks remarkably like the 5 senses, you catch on quick.  By literally coming to our senses, we rely on reality to determine reality rather than our mind’s fictional projections.   Unlike pratyahara which is an exercise in sense withdrawal and a wonderful part of a yogic practice, these exercises in simply ‘being’ can help us from overstimulating our senses and open the door to living fully & presently every moment of every day.


– Your Charmed Yogi

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(Photo: Tatoweirsucht’s Blog)


7 thoughts on “The Deva’s in the details – 5 ways to stay present

  1. As someone who has dealt with anxiety, I really enjoyed this post. Interesting you mention how new psychology philosophies are in line with ancient yogic ones. Love that detail!

  2. Regarding the last sentence of #4: “27. When in worldly activity, keep attentive between the two breaths, and so practising, in a few days be born anew.” (Lakshmanjoo says this is his favorite.) – Vigyan Bhairav Tantra, translated by Paul Reps

  3. Pingback: You are where your attention goes | A Charmed Yogi

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