Where are you now?

“We\’re so busy watching out for what\’s just ahead of us that we don\’t take time to enjoy where we are.”
Bill Watterson

“There was a part of my life when I felt very numb and disconnected from my environment and as a result I distanced myself from thoughts. Thoughts scared me so I shyed away from them. I wasn’t able to think about what I wanted to do, where I wanted to go and what I wanted to achieve. Should this have been a case for concern? No. Because one of life’s amazing paradoxes is that our future depends on our ability to pay attention to the present.

Life unfolds in the present. Living in an age of distraction, we are quick to let the present slip away, allowing our precious seconds rush past us. According to Buddhist scholar B. Alan Wallace,  \”We\’re living in a world that contributes in a major way to mental fragmentation, disintegration and distraction”. With the fast paced lives we lead combined with our every growing responsibilities to our families, our colleagues, our communities, our friends we live way too much in our heads. It’s always about planning what is next, or planning how to solve a problem or planning your future. You constantly dream, dream of your house, your job, your kids, your kids jobs, your vacations and the list is endless. We are always thinking of something, and always doing something leaving little room to just be calm and still and exist in the present moment-  ‘the now’.

What does living in the moment mean? We hear it so often and use it regularly but do we understand it? Living in the moment or being mindful is a state of active, open and international attention to the present moment. In this present state, we awaken ourselves to experience and are peace with our thoughts as they are, neither obsessing or grasping them nor pushing them away. \”Ordinary thoughts course through our mind like a deafening waterfall,\” writes Jon Kabat-Zinn, the biomedical scientist. We need to be in control of our thoughts and our lives and find the sense of balance. We need to disconnect from our environment, just click the pause button, to be still and focus on just being.

There are a whole host of benefits to living in the now. Reduced stress, healthier and happier life style, internal peace and happiness, higher self-esteem, better relationships and the list goes on. We are all in agreement as to the importance of living in the moment, but how can one go about it? Ellen Langer, a psychologist at Harvard and author of Mindfulness says \”When people are not in the moment, they\’re not there to know that they\’re not there.\” Overriding the distraction reflex and awakening to the present takes intentionality and practice.

There are many paths to living in the moment, and each path is wrapped with irony. For instance:

–       You must let go of what you want to get it.

–       To improve your performance you must stop thinking about it.

–       To avoid worrying about the future, focus on the present

–       To make the most of your time, lose track of it

–       If something is bothering you, move towards it rather than away from it.

Living in the moment is like living like there is no tomorrow. It requires a conscious act whereby you feel and indulge and savor and realize the beauty of every second lived.  A few simple exercises to living in the now include

  1. Dance like nobody is watching you – forget about performing for others
  2. Take notice of the world, notice the moments around you, stop to smell the roses
  3. Be focused on what is, and not what was or what could have been
  4. Smile when you wake up in the mornings, set the tone for the day! There is scientific proof that the expressions you make when smiling actually influences how you fell
  5. Be kind and compassionate, the smallest acts can make you and the world a more joyous place
  6. Be thankful so you do not miss the gifts already availed to you.

“Live today. Not yesterday. Not tomorrow. Just today. Inhabit your moments. Don’t rent them out to tomorrow. Do you know what you’re doing when you spend a moment wondering how things are going to turn out with Perry? You’re cheating yourself out of today. Today is calling to you, trying to get your attention, but you’re stuck on tomorrow, and today trickles away like water down a drain. You wake up the next morning and that today you wasted is gone forever. It’s now yesterday. Some of those moments may have had wonderful things in store for you , but now you’ll never know.”
? Jerry Spinelli, Love, Stargirl