Here is an easy exercise to help you develop present-moment awareness. We call this technique “practicing opposite behavior.”
This exercise also has the added benefit of stimulating activity in both hemispheres of the brain. By reversing your actions and by maintaining an awareness of each action as you perform it, you’ll trigger synchronized activity in the left and right hemispheres. Whole-brain synchronization is often seen in EEG readings of the brain activity of people who have practiced meditation for many years.
For one week, try performing all your everyday tasks in reverse. If you always put on your right shoe before your left, force yourself to stop and think, to become aware of what you are doing, and to put on the left shoe first instead. If you always step into your pants with the left leg first, try it in reverse instead. If you always take the milk out of the refrigerator before you get the cereal out of the cabinet, force yourself to stop and deliberately do it in the reverse order.
While you’re performing the actions in reverse, take note of any resistance. Does it feel odd to perform the action in the opposite way? Do your mind and body seem to rebel?
Keep up this reversed behavior throughout the day. Pay attention to the actions while you do them and consciously make an effort to do them in reverse. Obviously not every action may be done in reverse, but the simple act of forcing yourself to take note of what you are doing will improve your moment to moment awareness.
For the entire week, before you do anything, become aware of the action and become aware of how you perform it. It isn’t as easy as it sounds. We go through most of life on autopilot, performing everyday actions without paying much, if any, attention to what we’re doing. This exercise encourages awareness by training you to become aware of little things that usually go unnoticed.