By Angela Patnode Explorebigsky.com Contributor

In our day-to-day life, we tend to live in two places outside of the present: the past and the future. When our minds go to the past, we relive should or shouldn’t have’s, pleasant memories, or conversations gone right or wrong. Living in the future, we anticipate vacation, wishing we were there already, worry about the what if’s that haven’t happened yet, or hurry from one thing to the next, feeling overwhelmed with getting it all done.

What is it like to be present with what we’re doing? With the simple act of brushing our teeth, feeling the bristles on our gums, the taste of the toothpaste swirling over our tongue, or the sound of the brush on our teeth, we can practice being present, instead of rushing through it and to the next thing.

When we’re present, there is no room for worry, anxiety, stress, boredom, regrets or guilt. We have no problems in the present. Ask yourself if you have any problems, right now, in this moment, and you will most likely find the answer is no.

There is no reason to wait any longer for life to become these qualities, no need to wait to be happier when we get a better job, get married, divorced, have children, retire, or go on vacation. It’s all accessible this moment, every day, no matter what our life situation is. Living now means experiencing contentment, inner peace, more joy and more happiness.

But it takes practice. There’s no magic pill.

For some, meditation is a life-changing path to this kind of living. It’s taught to be a human ‘being’ instead of a human ‘doing.’

Meditation, or mindfulness, is a practice of sitting, watching your breath move in and out of your body, without the drive or need to do anything but be. It doesn’t need to be a religious practice, but instead, one of making time for yourself outside of the ‘doing’ world of your day.

It takes commitment and support to make this happen. Here are some tips for starting a daily practice of mindfulness:

• Set aside the same time each day to ‘be.’
• Set a timer for five minutes.
• Choose a quiet, comfortable location.
• Close your eyes and observe your breath moving in and out of your body.v
• When the mind wanders, bring it back to the breath without judgment.

Meditation is not about stopping thoughts. It’s about seeing the thoughts as just thoughts and not reality: Our thoughts are one perspective, and there are as many perspectives in the world as there are people.

Through this practice, I learned to see my thoughts from an objective perspective, develop compassion for myself and others, and experience the benefits of joy, peace, clarity and contentment. You can too.

Meditation has also been scientifically proven to physically change the gray matter density of the brain, in as little as eight weeks. MRI brain scans show that meditation decreases the gray matter that’s connected to stress and anxiety, and increases the gray matter that is connected to learning, memory, and empathy.

Through her business Evolutionary Teachings, Angela Patnode offers one-on-one programs, classes, workshops and retreats to help you evolve in your daily life through connecting your mind, body, heart and spirit. Angela Patnode is offering three meditation classes in Bozeman this winter:

Introductory meditation
Wednesdays, Jan. 11 – Feb. 15, 7 – 8 p.m.
YogaMotion Wellness Center, Emerson annex

Continuing meditation
This class is for adults of all ages and focuses on aging with joy.
Tuesdays Jan. 10 – 31, 7 – 8 p.m.
YogaMotion Wellness Center, Emerson annex

One-day silent retreat
For a full day of meditation, Angela, in partnership with Alice Robison, is offering a one-day silent retreat on Sunday, Feb. 5 from 9 a.m – 4 p.m.

For more information or to register for a class, call (406) 522-3884, email evolutionaryteachings@gmail.com, or visit evolutionaryteachings.com.