Life is Daily. Live it Moment-to-Moment.
Have you ever been in a yoga class and heard the words, “be here now?” I remember the first time I heard that statement, and others about living in the moment, but I didn’t get it. I’m here aren’t I? It took me some time to realize I was a “Time Traveler” and didn’t actually live in the moment. Oftentimes I plan the future or rework yesterday’s conversations or events. My thoughts took me out of “being here now.” It’s curious that time traveling seems so normal. What’s wrong with planning ahead, anticipating or recalling? Isn’t that part of living? As I thought about this concept, I started reading about mindfulness, went to more yoga classes and realized I had a lot of work to do to live life daily; to be in the moment. The more I practiced living this way, the less anxious I became. Don’t get me wrong, this new way of thinking isn’t a quick change, it’s an ongoing process. I have to keep reeling myself back in and gently reminding myself to come back to the moment. Like everything else we want to master, it takes practice. As Malcolm Gladwell refers to it in his book, Outliers, our ability to achieve something is about the “time at task”.
So what are the benefits of being here now? Being present and living life daily affords you a feeling of peace and contentment. Anxiety is caused by time travel. Fear resides in the past and in the future. There is no fear in the present. When I am present in the moment I am not afraid of what was or what is to come. Here’s a starting point for those interested in living life daily.
1. The first step is awareness. During the day, pay attention to how often you take off into the future worrying about what hasn’t even happened yet. Many of us catastrophize, developing and then feeling as if the outcomes we’ve imagined already happened. Notice how your thoughts consume you during the day. What’s the theme? How do you respond to your thoughts and yourself as you time travel? What is your self-talk about?
2. Then gently and kindly reel yourself in. Depending on how you treat yourself this may take a bit of practice also. Recognize your thoughts and say be here now, or come back or another key phrase to get you back in the moment.
3. Notice all your senses. What are you hearing, seeing, feeling, smelling and tasting right now? It helps to breathe deep and slowly as you key into your sensations.
4. Practice it over and over and over. Consider trying to ‘be here now” at every transition point in your day. When you get off the phone and onto another task for instance, stop and take notice of what the moment is like. When you leave an appointment and drive home, sit for a few moments, breathe slowly, and notice. Some people set an hourly alarm on their phone to remind them to stop and be in the moment.
This image of the yogi shows her balanced in the present. In order to remain balanced, she has to concentrate on her stance. Her body needs a measure of flex and tension to maintain equilibrium. Like life, balance is a dynamic process – being present requires focus. You need to feel, hear, taste, see and smell what is happening right now, because right now is your life.
Past Present Future