Once, a Japanese friend told me how to create a blissful bath. Tip a cup of baking soda into the bathwater and soak in it, Naoko said.
"That's all?" I wondered, my mind flashing to the aromatic bath salts and satiny oils I'd lovingly amassed.
Since the Japanese are connoisseurs of bath rituals - and Naoko herself is a centred while spirited young woman - I was curious and bought the no-frills Arm & Hammer brand she favoured. A little box was about a dollar, an irresistible price for pleasure.
My first wondrous soak was in winter.
Indiscernibly, the bathroom became a glowing cocoon against the cold and the swirl of uncertainties that week. I loved being in the moment.
When I emerged, my skin felt silky and perfectly pH-balanced. I could start the week again with a light heart.
Being in the moment can happen alone or when we're with people.
There is sweetness and ease, clarity and a sense of being whooshed away.
And then the frazzled self-commentary that we reflexively attach to so many chunks of our day is silenced.
These days, my Pilates classes at Power- Moves in Bishan Park put me in the moment.
I'm amazed that the world fades away for an hour when I focus on the discipline of Pilates.
Although I mostly go straight from the office, I do not think about work. Nothing serious or even fun creeps into my mind.
Yet I know it's not a Zen nothingness either.
My head is in balance, not in a vacuum.
Playing with children also pops us into the zone.
It's a fun blessing for me to live with a little niece and nephew who, like all children when we don't stress them, innately know how to live in the moment.
Hearing my nephew lah-lah-ing when he comes down the stairs makes me smile.
His embrace of each moment peels off one more care from an adult's day.
The other day, his sister, a fledgling fashionista when she isn't immersed in the moment with her ballet, books or paint brush, asked me to name any place I fancied.
Barbados, I said. And she designed beachwear for her Barbie from a ribbon, grandma's flowery hankie and pink satin.
All of us were once kids who delighted in the present. We can reclaim some of that, and let children be children.
More episodes of plunging myself in the present:
Exploring our Southern Ridges, which connect hills, city skylines and stars.
Walking under clouds of cherry blossoms, or witnessing the cosmic miracle of falling stars in summer.
Friends improvising music around a campfire on a mountain and flipping pancakes for breakfast the next morning.
Being snowed in for three days, but having a German neighbour who unwrapped Bavarian Christmas traditions for me over a light German lunch (yes, light) at her place.
Spending time with irrepressible people, like my sister Ping when she was a bright-eyed teen, and revisiting parts of Singapore when she returns from Melbourne.
Friends lingering at my place on Sunday afternoons after church.
Forgiving a school friend and, some years later, speaking heart-to-heart again over coffee and leaving the past behind while a bubble invisibly formed over our table.
My school reunion with convent friends, when every minute was perfection and we were 16 again.
Losing myself for hours in a book that morphs into a new world.
Is living in the moment indulgent?
Not at all. It's more than play. It liberates distracted hearts to be alive to possibilities and to focus on what's important.
Being in the moment can happen amid beauty and romance. It happens when we travel, which is why we pay lots to relish multiple sequences of being in the moment.
But it can always be a slice of every day, like a perfect bath or when we linger with family and friends. It's an attitude we carry in our hearts.
Such times are a sliver of heaven. Life is short so why should we live far in the future or be mired in the irreversible past?
It's loveliest to live in the moment - but with a clear eye on forever so we hold on to what's important in life, plus a glance at the past so we profit from its rich lessons.
This article was first published in The Sunday Times on Nov 16, 2008.