Monday, May 5, 2014

Living in the 'now'

Do you have trouble staying in the moment? Not living either in the past or in the future? Me, too. I'm trying to be more awake and aware—to pay attention to what's around me right now. However, it's easy to get caught up in our old stories (our past) or to be ensnared by plans (the future). Mind you, we have to do a bit of each of those.

The past is instructive for our present and our future. No doubt about that. So we do well to at least reflect on what happened and learn the lessons from that. And we certainly need to at least make some plans for the future. It's when either of those becomes more of a dwelling place that problems can set in.

I like what author Jan Phillips says about awareness and staying in the present: "If I drift into the past, my regrets surge up, my memories of failing and forsaking. If I shift into the future, I meet with doubt and discouragement, anxiety about what's to come, what I'm not capable of controlling. It's in the present moment that I belong. Only there do I feel my balance."

We don't need to live with regrets and failures. We don't need to get caught up in anxiety and doubt about the future either. Let's try to stay grounded right where we are—in the present. You can do that by paying attention to your feet on the ground or your bottom on the chair. You can do that by paying attention to your breath going in and going out. You can do it by letting yourself get below your neck: Don't just think. Feel. Get down into your body and feel what's happening in and around you. Notice sounds. Sights. Smells. Sensations. Try doing that for even five minutes of the day. Then 10. More. And see whether you can develop the habit of living in the present.

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