Focussing your Mind in Time

A great many of our thoughts, feelings and actions emerge automatically. As a result, our lifestyles are strongly affected by reactions that are not necessarily under our full control. Willpower describes the ability to directly control such responses. One way to strengthen free will and gain greater control over one’s life is to learn to control where in time attention is focused. Learning to return to the present via one’s senses is a particularly valuable skill to master. Here’s how to do it.

Most settings within which you find yourself are neither strongly positive nor strongly negative. How you feel in these neutral situations can be affected by focusing your attention somewhere else in time. For example, you may sour the present moment by dwelling upon painful memories from the past or worries about the future. If you do this consistently you will be more prone to develop symptoms of depression and anxiety.

Concentrating on the positive or neutral present can help you enjoy life to the fullest. This mental skill can be learned and most people have access to a perfect place within which to practice it; the humble shower.

The shower is a perfect place to practice being in the present, as many senses are stimulated at once. You may focus on sensations gathered by your eyes, ears, skin, and nose. As you begin this exercise you will notice how your attention wanders away from the present to the past or future. When it does this, gently focus on something happening now. It’s very important not to criticize yourself when your mind strays as this will distract you even further.

Concentrate on one or two of the following sensations each time you take a shower:

Sights – colors, shapes, and textures of: light fixtures, shadows, taps, shower nozzle, tub, tiles, towels, washcloth, shower curtain/ enclosure, skin, soap…

Sounds –moving the shower curtain or opening the shower door – opening the taps, the water flowing in, your hands, washcloth and/or scrub brush touching the skin…

Feelings –shape of the taps, hardness of the floor, heat, wetness and pressure of the water, steam in the air, slippery soap, weight and roughness of the scrub brush, softness of the washcloth, the towel after…

Add to the above list whenever possible. You may also practices while driving [mainly sight], preparing food or washing dishes etc. If you choose to do this daily you will improve your ability to concentrate on the present at will. This skill will help you gain control over your thoughts instead of your thoughts controlling you

Time perspective is  one of the most powerful influences on all of human behaviour.  We're trying to show how people become biased to being exclusively past-present or future-oriented.
Philip Zimbardo Ph.D
Professor Emeritus
Stanford University

Confine yourself to the present.
Marcus Aurelius

The ability to be in the present moment  is a major component of mental wellness.

Abraham Maslow