Mindful dating is at the core of Keepler’s ethos, and mindful relationships start with learning how to stay present in everyday life. This Keepler reflection guide is designed to help you learn how to not only access the present moment, but to experience it without judgment.
At Keepler, our approach is rooted in acceptance and commitment therapy (ACT), a form of positive psychology that calls on a six-pronged “Hexaflex” to help develop emotional flexibility. The “Present Moment” is one of the six core tenets of ACT (along with Values, Committed Action, Self as Context, Acceptance, and Defusion—all of which will be the focus of upcoming Keepler reflection guides).
By developing the skill of staying present, you not only expand your capacity for emotional flexibility, but also your ability to take conscious and effective action. This means you’ll be able to make better choices when it comes to dating—and honor your values along the way.
Tapping Into the Moment
Statistics show that most of us are only in the “here and now” for 47% of the day. If this rings true for you, it may be the right time to take some honest inventory of your daily routine. Throughout the day, you likely check your email and to-do list countless times, but how often do you simply check in with yourself? Tapping into the present moment means pressing the proverbial pause button to turn inward and get in touch with your current mental state.
Certified meditation instructor Chris Keller recommends setting a regular alert on your watch or phone to get you into the habit of getting present. To guide these regular intervals, Keller recommends starting simply by feeling your feet on the ground and taking a breath, then tuning into your five senses to take in your surroundings. Once you feel more centered, you can take two minutes to simply be and notice what’s happening in your body, or what Keller calls your “internal landscape.”
According to Keller, it’s totally common for uncomfortable feelings to surface or for your mind to wander during these check-ins. But rather than chasing those intrusions away, consider leaning into them from a place of discovery. “You’re not meditating to “Zen out” and not feel anything—quite the opposite, actually,” says Keller.
“If your mind wanders toward your checklist, be gentle and kind to yourself without judgment. If something comes up that doesn’t feel very good, ask yourself why it’s there. Often these deeper check-ins can give you a lot of insight.”
This mindset is directly in line with the “Acceptance” piece of ACT, which Positive Psychology calls “the active choice to allow unpleasant experiences to exist, without trying to deny or change them.” This also applies to being present, simply by staying in the moment without trying to alter anything.
Suggested prompts for further exploration:
- What does “here and now” mean to me?
- What might my mind, body, and soul need in this present moment?
- Where do I become disconnected, and how can I work with that?
- Observe your current environment and take in the details. Do you notice anything new?
Finding Your Peace
As you become more versed in the skill of getting present, you can set yourself up for success by identifying the conditions most likely to bring you back to yourself. Maybe it’s stepping outside a few times a day for a change of scenery, finding some alone time, or turning on a playlist that makes you feel calm and serene. According to Keller, getting present can often be as easy as simply closing your eyes. “Taking the visual piece out is huge,” says Keller. “Just by closing your eyes, you’re able to shift your gaze inward.”
Using a mantra paired with powerful breathwork can also help to cultivate a sense of peace, and it’s easier than you may think. Keller practices a technique she calls “Peaceful Abiding Breath” to move out of the head and into the heartspace. The technique is simple: after doing a quick body check-in, she repeats the phrase, “I am breathing in peace, I am breathing out tension” while inhaling and exhaling accordingly.
“We are naturally peaceful creatures, so a mindfulness practice can plug you back into what’s already there,” explains Keller.
Of course, it’s also important to understand and acknowledge that cultivating inner peace in any given moment may not always be easy or achievable—which is in line with the ACT concept of acceptance. “Going into it with an expectation of being peaceful can backfire,” says Keller. “But setting up the atmosphere to help you get there—whether that’s through music, breathing, or something else—can help your mind take a break. Once your body starts to settle down, your mind will follow suit.”
Making time for mindfulness may not feel easy at first, but chances are the efforts will be well worth it as you start to see the impact it can have on your relationship with yourself and others.
“When you’re more checked in with yourself, you have more capacity to check in with another, and you can listen more deeply and actively because you’re not in your head,” says Keller. “From a calm and aware state, you can be much more empathetic and compassionate about someone else’s needs.”
Suggested prompts for further exploration:
- How can I cultivate peace right now?
- Whom do I feel most at peace with? Why?
- How am I making time for mindfulness throughout my day, and why does that matter to me?