Creating a Mindful Life in a Distracted World: The Moment

Dr. Jessie Voigts's picture

Do you feel exhausted and stressed from the constant tending of social media, working harder, and trying to catch up? Join the club. But it’s a club we’d not choose, but somehow it is the way we live our lives today. And if you’re not happy, I recently read a book that addresses these issues, beautifully. Achim Nowak, an international authority on presence and interpersonal connection, has penned a new book, entitled The Moment: a Practical Guide to Creating a Mindful Life in a Distracted World. Doesn’t that title just SIZZLE with you? It did for me.

The Moment: A Practical Guide to Creating a Mindful Life in a Distracted World

Here’s why I love this book:

It’s divided into four sections, or keys: awaken the senses, crave meaning, wave-ride energy, and make time stand still. It’s that last one that I wanted most, because our daughter is 13, and time is flying way too quickly. But I digress. 

Using these four keys can help you live, as the book is so aptly titled, in the moment. What does that mean in real life? It means being present, allowing ourselves to be in the moment, fully appreciating what we have and the beauty of our lives. It means dropping stress and picking up noticing. It means living mindfully.

Perhaps my favorite part of the book is when Achim shares the concept of bloom. It comes from Jon Kabat-Zinn: “See if you can detect the bloom of the present moment in every moment, the ordinary ones, the “in-between” ones, even the hard ones.

Achim goes even further, asking us to detect the bloom in every moment and relish it. He asks that we unobligated ourselves a little, and settle into our moments of peace. But where he gets me most, in this beautiful and important chapter, is when he describes some of the bloom he's found:

The sudden view of a forgotten canal in Venice Beach. The skinny stray cat that dashes down the alley behind my house. The dolphin fin that arches out of the sea, dips away into the deep. All bloom.
Moments are such a slippery and ephemeral thing. They come and go with the blink of an eye.

I won’t spoil the ending of this book, for it is such a beautiful present to us readers – a different way of being and envisioning ourselves in the world. We can slow down and notice, whether at home (where I am sitting at my desk, looking outside at the snow falling, and drinking a lovely cup of coffee, with beans I just ground and a coffee-making ritual that allows me, every day, to see this bloom), on our travels, or anywhere in our lives. 

I will say that this is one of the most important books you can read, especially in today’s crazy, overworked, distracted world. There’s more to life than being busy, just as there’s more to travel than hitting the attractions. Sit at a café, people watch, find the things that make you happy there – the bloom. Bring that home from the coffeeshop and put it to effect in everyday life. Let’s fully engage, be present, and notice the people, places, and activities in our lives. Living a mindful life? It’s worth it. 

Can you tell I love this book? Highly recommended.

We were lucky enough to catch up with Achim, and ask him about the book, inspiration, being distracted, creating a mindful life, and more. Here’s what he had to say… 

Talking with Achim Nowak, about his new book: The Moment.

Please tell us about your book, the moment...

We live in a world where there is tremendous pressure to constantly strive, work harder, do more, more, more. All of this pressure is exhausting, and it does little to make us happier. Our days often become one big blur of rush, rush, rush. Enough!!! The Moment is an invitation to a more childlike way of enjoying the world, and the 4 keys in this book are a simple way of finding our way back home to that way of being.

What inspired you to write this book?

I sat in the kitchen of my friend Helen Miller’s home in Santa Monica, and Helen told me about a moment she experienced in a bookstore at LAX. It was a beautiful moment that slipped away. As I listened to her story, I thought of all the other moments in our lives than can so easily slip away – and I asked myself, what if they didn’t? What if we could know our moments more richly, more deeply as they unfold? That’s how I decided to write The Moment, and Helen’s story opens the book.

Why do people feel so distracted today?

My answers feel obvious – but I like their obviousness because it is an obviousness that we can manage:

1.    We tend to overcommit, and when we do, we swing into rush-rush-rush mode and stop being fully present.

2.    We are so very married to our technology – when we tune into technology we swing into an alternate reality and out of present reality. 

Especially when it comes to the use of technology – I urge us to experiment with technology-free periods of time, especially when we are in a public space. We suddenly notice the moments all around us that are waiting to be born.

What tips do you have for reading this book?

The Moment was written as a bedside book, in short little vignettes that stand on their own and yet thematically accumulate. Read The Moment in short bites, chew on them, don’t rush. Each section ends with activities that you may wish to explore. The activities are suggested in the spirit of playful discovery – they are not another gosh-I-need-to-improve-myself assignment. Easy does it. Savor and enjoy.

What might people be surprised to learn, about creating a mindful life?

The most common take on mindfulness is that we are fully present in a moment and, at the same time, act as a witness to that moment. I salute this ability to “double-track.” I invite you to season this ability to double-track with a keen sense of playfulness and a delight in the pleasures of the physical world in which we live. The Moment will show you how.

What's up next for you?

Very immediately, lots of travel. The next two months will find me in Los Angeles, New York, Atanta, Geneva, Lisbon, and Bangalore. The two most special place on this list for me are Bangalore – because I have never been – and Lisbon – because I spent part of my childhood there and have not been back in 50 years. I get chills just thinking about that.

Is there anything else you'd like to share?

Explore the notion of unobligated time. We complain that we don’t have enough time to do all the things we wish to do. For many of us, it’s a true statement. We truly don’t have enough time. We ardently desire a “time-out” from our obligations. Yet the moment we have some free time, we instantly obligate this time. 

Experiment with chunks of time for which you make absolutely no plans. A day, half a day perhaps. In periods of unobligated time, we get to truly hear our inner voice. Our desires. We get to decide whether we wish to act on them. We get to do nothing, perhaps. Most importantly, we get to dump our obligation story. We rediscover who we really are.


Find Achim online at:

And follow him on twitter for inspiration:

Also read his article here on Wandering Educators: 5 Travel Habits that Instantly Change your Mood