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10 People Describe A Moment When They Felt Truly Present

It can be difficult to remember to be truly present. Aetna believes if you remember to #takeamoment it can help you appreciate each memorable minute.

1. The Quiet Train Ride

I was taking the train about an hour upstate to see a show by myself. I got out my earbuds to listen to podcasts, as I always do whenever I've got more than like three minutes to myself because I've got a pretty persistent aversion to silence. But, for some reason, I just held the earbuds in my hands and looked out the window, where I could see a lake and greenery speeding by. A part of my brain was like, What are you doing? Why aren't you listening to anything right now? Something is going to break. But it was overridden by a new and different part of my brain that said, Sip your drink. Look at the earth. This is a nice moment.

—Kristin R.

2. The Shared Laughter

One day, my dad and I were watching soccer, which is our favorite activity to do together. I always treasure the moments I spend with him because he is my favorite person in the world and I don't get to see him often. On this one day, my fat bulldog, Ellie, jumped on the couch and had her squishy snout facing my dad and her bum face. She let out the biggest sneeze and, in turn, the biggest fart. This caused my dad and me to loudly erupt in laughter. My dad was covered in dog snot and I, in butt fumes.

We laughed really hard for hours — and I felt really joyful at that moment. Even though it was a mildly gross episode, I remember feeling an immense amount of happiness and gratefulness to have my dad, my dog, and soccer all in one room.

—Leslie R.

3. The Mindful Music

Last summer, I went to a concert with a group of pals. There was a bad storm the night before, so there was no cell service anywhere, which initially made me panic. But my friends made a plan to meet at a certain spot in case we got split up. And because I knew I wouldn't be getting any texts or social media updates, I was forced not to be distracted by my phone and live in the moment and enjoy the band I was there to see. It was the best.

—Ashley C.

4. The Moment Of Wonder

I was in Amsterdam a few years ago with my sister and two friends. The entire time we were there it poured EVERY SINGLE day, but that didn't stop us from biking around the canals in our ponchos and enjoying the idyllic city. One day, we stopped for a snack in a park and suddenly out of nowhere the rain cleared and this incredibly vivid DOUBLE RAINBOW appeared before our eyes. We were all frolicking around, taking pictures, totally excited about it. It was a magical moment!

—Lily A.

5. The Silent Connection

This past summer, my fiancé and I spent a week with his family in a beach house on Cape Cod. One night, everyone was out except for me, my fiancé, and his mother. We all had books we wanted to read, so instead of watching a movie or a show, we all got comfy in the living room and read in silence for a few hours. The sun was setting over the ocean, and as we sat there reading, I felt deeply connected to both of them and fully present in that room, in that moment. My phone was far away and I was engaging with the words on the page — and even though we weren't talking, I felt a hum of connection with these people I loved.

—Jana P.

6. The Observer

I lived in Japan for a while, and part of why I loved it was that I couldn't speak or read the language, so large parts of my day had no words. That makes a lot of people uncomfortable, but it felt very natural to me. You pay attention to more things: the shape of buildings and streets, the small bits of nature in the megalopolis, the way people move and dress...but you can't stop noticing how many WORDS there are, everywhere, and how you can survive pretty well without them.

—Kirk D.

7. The Arrival

Earlier this year, I took a trip to Portugal with some buddies. We had been planning and saving for this trip for nearly eight months, so the anticipation of our arrival was at an all-time high. As we trekked up the cobblestoned hill toward our hostel, everything sort of came to a head. The moment when the street opened up into a sweeping view of the city I felt this great sense of accomplishment, pride, and presentness. We didn't take out our phones but just stared, mouths ajar, fully taking in the moment.

—Clark M.

8. The Healing Movement

When I am in serious need of clearing my head, I ride my bike around the huge loop in a nearby park two or three times. Almost without fail, the moments of letting my bike take me down that winding, smooth hill — after I've pedaled up the intense, long incline — are just exhilarating. I always have at least one earbud in when I bike, and I always have a carefully crafted playlist to help me rise above whatever is hurting. Hearing one of the songs that makes me feel good or powerful as I feel the wind on my face and let my legs rest and my heartbeat slow a bit always reminds me, "You are alive. You are here. This is amazing."

—Mandy C.

9. The Bond With Strangers

In 2010, I was moving to São Paulo to start college and decided to spend the summer with my sister in Europe. We went to Croatia for a week and completely fell in love with Hvar — and back then, we took pictures with cameras and left our cellphones at the hostel.

One night, we were partying at a club called Carpe Diem — where every tourist and local went — and, after they closed at around 2 a.m., everyone left together through the cobbled streets. We had met some Canadians during the trip, and while walking together back home, we stopped to see a young man jamming on his guitar. We started singing along with him, and soon everyone who had left the party joined us, singing, dancing, and hugging in a weird and amazing bond...until the police came and told us to go home. It gives me the chills to remember it.

—Paula M.

10. The Clarity Of Travel

Last year, I attended my best friend’s wedding in Meerut, India. I’ve never witnessed anything quite like it. The whirlwind three days involved copious amounts of food, music, and colorful outfits.

After the wedding, my partner and I spent a week traveling around India. It wasn’t until our first overnight sleeper train when everything suddenly dawned on me. As the train passed through India’s breathtaking countryside, I looked back at my best friend’s wedding, contemplating his exciting new future as I envisaged what the future might hold for me. Passing from one chaotic city to the next, the serenity of the sleeper train seemed to make everything abundantly clear.

—Ben P.

Animation by Kirun Kunju / © BuzzFeed.Com

Mindfulness can help you reduce stress so you can fully be present for the things that truly matter. Aetna encourages you to #takeamoment and experience how being in the present can benefit you — learn more on Aetna's Tumblr.

This content is sponsored by Aetna.