Living in the Present
Living in the now and being fully present and mindful of each and every moment sounds like a great idea – it’s so Zen! But have you ever really tried it? How can something so basic be so hard?
I don’t dwell much on the past but I do a lot of thinking and sometimes worrying about the future. A certain amount of planning is necessary, but worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet is a waste of time and energy.
If you think about it, our feelings of love, spirituality and true joy are “in the moment” feelings. Yet, how to achieve this state all the time seems impossible.
When I try to concentrate on the here and now, my mind always wonders. For example, when I’m taking a walk I’m usually timing myself to be sure I do at least 30 minutes, and all the while I’m thinking about what I’m going to do next, when I should be soaking up my surroundings and just appreciating what is right in front of me at the moment. What’s my hurry? Time passes too quickly as it is and here I am trying to push it ahead even faster.
For me, trying too hard to make each moment joyful, spiritual or relaxing usually has the opposite effect. I think we just have to accept the here and now as it is and not try to change it into something better. Maybe all we need to do is pay attention to each experience as it comes. If my mind wanders, as it often does, I’ve found that it’s best not to resist it. If I’m being distracted by too many random or unproductive thoughts, I can start by just being thankful that I noticed it. Then I can take a deep breath and turn my attention back to the present. This way I can increase my mindfulness a little at a time.
What about feelings of stress, anxiety and sadness? This is a part of life that we all experience. I find that if I try to push away these feelings, they just get worse. If you don’t accept these feelings for what they are, then you begin to try to justify them by making a mental list of all the bad things in your life. It’s not likely that this will make you feel better. So, when you are sad, just accept that it’s okay. Even accepting your negative feelings is a way of living in the moment.
Some people may think that living for today means being unmotivated. In other words, if I accept everything in my life as it is, how will I have any motivation to get things done? I think the answer may be that finding joy in our special talents and even the small things we do each day will keep us motivated.
If we really focus on the here and now, maybe we can live more fully from moment to moment. In every moment there is a choice. If we keep reminding ourselves to pay attention to what is around us and what we are doing right now, even cleaning house can be uplifting – if we do it with our whole heart and with our best intention.