How To Live in the Moment
When people suggest that I “live in the moment” I understand the concept and can recognize the value (I read and loved Eckhart Tolle’s “The Power Of Now”). But I secretly wonder, “How on earth do you really do that?”
Yesterday, I spent one of the last glorious days of summer lazing on the beach with a dear friend. We were basking in the final rays of the afternoon sun when the conversation turned to his single status. He shared with me that an old girlfriend, currently married was potentially about to be single again. Knowing he had a “thing” for this woman in the past, and a desire to be in a relationship now, I was all over the “potential” that they may yet end up together.
Sensing his overt lack of enthusiasm over my colorfully painted vision of his future, I asked him what was up; to which he replied, “I don’t live in the past or the future, I live in the moment”.
“Live in the moment? What the heck does that mean? How do you do THAT?” I retorted, with plenty of excitement in my voice. He told me he didn’t know how he did it, he just did. As afternoon faded into evening his response stayed with me. I began wondering why I so automatically move out of the present and into the future. I put myself in his shoes and imagined how I might deal with the same situation. I discovered that I leave the present and go into the future to protect myself. If I run all the possible scenarios through my mind, good or bad, and “prepare” myself for what might be, I figure, fore warned is fore armed? Right? Well, maybe not.
Now, let this be said, I’m not saying planning’s a bad thing, or dreaming for that matter. But it doesn’t escape my notice that a lot of the future “projecting” I do isn’t peaceful. My teacher and friend Byron Katie is famous for saying “if you want fear on purpose, get a future, if you want shame, get a past.
How are you doing with staying in the present moment?
Here are some tips I’ve learned that help me stay a bit longer in the present moment.
1. When you find yourself imagining fearful scenarios ask yourself, “Is this the only possibility?” Search for what else could be true, rather than what you fear.
2. Remind yourself that worrying about the future or regretting the past isn’t going to change what has or is going to happen.
3. Do you have a fundamental trust that whatever happens you’re going to be ok? Can you find times from your past that serve as evidence that this is true? If so, draw on that experience.
4. Are your basic needs met, does your life work? Often we move into the future because we think it will be better there. Consider addressing what ever is not in balance so it will become desirable to be more in the now.
5. Practice the power of the present. Focus on something positive or beautiful right here and now and breathe it in. Let yourself fully feel it.
6. Then, be willing to let go of that too and move on to the next moment.
After our invigorating conversation my friend and I walked to the waters edge to experience the ocean. We both gasped when the chill of the water hit our bare feet. We laughed and looked at each other and both expressed the joy of being able to share the moment.
It’s YOUR life…imagine the possibilities!
Article by Helaine Iris
I agree this in the moment thing is not an easy habit to learn when we already have a long standing habit that is hard to break. If our childhood was painful in the moment too often we learned to distract ourselves into a disconnection from that pain because as you said we do not know and believe we will be ok. Living in our heads becomes something most of us are not even aware of. I so very much love the quote you gave as it is the bottom line truth---most of our pain is gathered in regret or worry and that does keep us from the moment. I remember reading Tolle's book when it came out and I did understand it but boy it was work to make it a lasting habit! There is an awareness at all times to keep in check. I have to say for me the ultimate teacher of living in the moment was "death". After my son died I really got it as the whole universe shifted for me. One day at a time is everything and when you really know how precious each moment is you value it more. Suddenly the things you used to worry about seem so trivial! I've done a lot of reading on this subject and it seems that learning to live in the moment is the grace filled blessing one recieves on the other side of loss. Remember that old serenity prayer? This wisdom of letting go of the future has been around for a long time! I think it's about energy as surely we must visit good memories and we as well must have positive visions towards the future but those are good energy states of being. Looking back to my twenties --even thirties my greatest regret is how much energy and pain I gathered regretting or worrying over the future! But I do forgive that silly girl as it was and still is a journey. For all you young folks out there--wish you the wisdom to get this lesson sooner than later! BLESSINGS!
Yes, it's a great quote.