Five Ways Living in the Moment Will Improve Your Health

Thursday, June 18, 2015


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You are constantly barraged by stimulus.  You demand it — faster downloads, changing topics, always keeping part of your attention focused on what comes next.  Your job demands it, commercials are made for it, life moves faster and faster, and it means that there is not time for slowing down.  It is no wonder you have lost the ability to live in the moment.  Every commercial urges you to get more, be more, have more, do more.  You are onto the next thing before you are finished with the first, and this lack of presence in your own life is reeking all sorts of havoc on your health.  Compiled below is a list of 5 worthwhile reasons to ditch the constant focus on what comes next and to practice living in the present:

1. It will re-establish a connection with your body.

The new health baseline seems to be, well, a lack of health.  You do not have to live your life this way.  You can actually feel well.  You can wake up with energy, have great digestion, live without pain, and sleep well.

Living in the moment forces you to pay more attention to your body, which will allow you to draw connections between health problems and their possible causes.  It may clue you into the fact that the posture you are using at your computer is causing your back pain.  It will also allow you to be mindful of changing your posture to get rid of the pain.  Notably, you may also learn how to recognize things like hunger and satiety again.  No more eating just to fill emotional needs or out of boredom.  The list of possible benefits you could gain from reestablishing a connection with your body is practically endless.

2. You will lose weight.

There are oodles of studies that link mindless eating to the consumption of many, many unnecessary calories.  It is fairly well-known at this point that it takes about 20 minutes from the time you begin eating until the satiety message reaches your brain.  20 minutes of mindless eating in front of the tv or computer can easily turn into 300 more calories than you would have eaten had you been paying attention.  Possibly even more devastating to your weight is that this lack of attention causes you to underestimate your overall consumption to such a degree that you will consume on average 25% more calories in your day.  By establishing mindful eating habits, not only will you get to enjoy your food, but you will likely see the benefits in your waistline. 

3. Your stress will become more manageable.

A great deal of attention has been paid in recent years to research showing the benefits of mindfulness on stress levels.  People under high levels of stress often overlook this potential benefit because they feel they don’t have enough time to practice mindfulness.  The truth is that with all the physical and mental health tolls that stress takes on you, you can’t afford not to learn some mindfulness.  

It will take far less time to spend 20 minutes 3-4 times/week practicing mindfulness than it will to spend 20 years battling poor health.  Over time, your mindfulness practice will improve and you will be able to focus and relax during specific moments of high stress.  This will bring you  immediate reductions in the negative physiological effects of stress.  Assistant Professor of Psychology at Harvard, Dr. Ronald D. Siegel offers free mindfulness mediation downloads to get you started.

4.   You will notice more enjoyable moments.

Remember what it was like when you were young and you felt carefree?  The trick of the young, one of the reasons they are so carefree is because they spend so much of their time in the present moment.  Obviously they do not have the demands on them that adults do, but they also do not stress about the future.  They do not worry about the past.  They live utterly and unabashedly in the moment.  This makes them available to either be happy about their current situation or to change it.  

If they are unhappy, they move to an activity that makes them happy.  They do not allow themselves to be bound by dead-end situations, because every moment feels immensely important — too important to waste on things that don’t fulfill them.  This is why they whine and cry and feel so deeply (ok, and the hormones).  Most of you would not relive childhood or teen angst for anything, but there are bits of this that would do you well to hang onto.  Living in the moment is one of the great things children can teach you.  It is what allows children to be utterly optimistic, to make their situations suit them, and to singularly focus on their goal of fulfillment.  They are hedonists, and although living a purely hedonistic life would lead to the downfall of our society, you needn’t be a martyr.  Pay attention to how much of your life makes you happy.  Living for tomorrow is only helpful if it is not done at the expense of today.  All you have is now.  Trite, maybe, but true, definitely.  

5.  You cope better with health issues.

Not only will living in the moment bring you all of the aforementioned things, but there is also research that suggests that those who practice mindfulness perceive their health issues to be less profound than those who do not.  

This does not meant that it causes people with serious illnesses to ignore them, rather it means that those people do not dwell on their illnesses.  People are so good at identifying with their illnesses, especially those that are chronic, that the illness becomes innately tied to their identity.  You are no longer Judy, but you are Judy the Diabetic.  People who suffer from chronic pain have been able to actually feel less pain by using mindfulness techniques, which then allows them to take less medication, to seek fewer interventions, and to enjoy their lives more.  This has been shown to work across a myriad of health concerns, thereby improving health, both mental and physical, and making life that much more enjoyable.

Now you have the motivation you need to start living more of your life in the moment, so don’t waste the momentum.  Go back to number 3, click on the link, and start living a more mindful life right now. 

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Erin Brockmeyer, LAc, is owner and acupuncturist at Solstice Natural Health in downtown Portland, Oregon.  She creates custom health plans for patients to help them tackle their most complicated health concerns, including infertility, prenatal care, fibromyalgia, thyroid conditions and chronic and acute pain conditions.  Visit her website for more information and to download her free e-book 5 Simple Ways to Improve Your Health Today.


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