Living in the Moment
I recently attended a grief recovery seminar where one of the major focuses of our week together was learning how to live in the present moment. Many of us in the group took issue with this concept. We all were working with people who were grieving and hurting. For them, the present moment wasn’t all that pleasant. But our instructor ensured us that before the week was up, she would convince us that even in the midst of pain, our unhappiness comes from being out of the present moment.
With those comments, I quickly dug in my heels and said, “Prove it to me.” Well, before the weekend was over, she did, and I’d like to share some of this thinking with you.
When someone you love or care about dies, you experience a wide range of emotions. Your mind goes over and over what happened, wanting to know every detail. You begin to think about all of the things you could have said, should have said, could have done, and should have done. You begin to think about all of the things that person meant to you. All that you shared in life and all of the wishes you have for the future. You begin to focus on what will happen next. How will you go on? You think of all there is to do and all there will be to do in the future. As you fill your head with this huge list of things that must be done or will have to be done, it is easy to feel overwhelmed. The more overwhelmed you are, the more upset you get, and soon the big snowball just keeps rolling down the hill, getting bigger and bigger, until you feel like you want to explode.
But then, you begin to worry about everyone else. How are they doing? What should you be doing to help them? What does the future hold for any of you?
And so you see that your mind – and your body, for that matter – are locked into both the past and the future. You are trying to figure out what happened in the past and what you will do in the future, and you are not experiencing any of what is going on now. You are not able to listen to all the people who have gathered around to show their support. You can’t hear the stories they tell about your loved one that would help you build memories to store in your heart. You are so overwhelmed with what has happened and what lies ahead, that you are not able to experience the feelings you are having right now.
These are the feelings that are all a part of your grief. You are not allowing yourself to experience the pain and sadness, even though doing so will allow happiness to come in again. You are stuffing what is really going on and creating this giant pressure cooker that will explode some day if the pressure isn’t let off. And that is what most people do. Because to live in the now, the present moment when someone you love has died, means you have to face the emotions of the heart and we aren’t comfortable with them.
But don’t feel like there is something wrong with you. Most of us aren’t comfortable with feelings of the heart. We tend to operate most of the time in the past or the future because staying in the present means you have to feel and that can be painful, particularly now. If you can allow yourself to feel the pain, you also will be able to feel the joy, the love and the support that surrounds you.
When you function in the past, 10 percent of your time is spent on fond memories and 90 percent is spent on regrets. When you spend your time in the future, 10 percent is spent on planning and 90 percent is spent on worrying about what could happen. But if you choose to live in the future, while you feel the pain, you also feel comfort in being with friends and loved ones.
You only have to focus on time one moment at a time as you let go of all the time spent in worrying and regrets. You can appreciate life at its fullest if you focus on living in the moment, paying attention to what is happening around you right now. It truly makes life a lot easier. You become more aware of your surroundings and your feelings. And you come to know happiness again.
You cannot know happiness if you have never known pain. You cannot know joy if you have never known sorrow.
So you see, life if full of extremes, all of which can become a part of our lives when we just focus on living in the now. By living in the now, you deal with the pain when it happens and celebrate joy and happiness when they enter your life. You capitalize on the joy of the moment because your mind isn’t somewhere in the future or the past. It is here now. You can be present in the moment.
Here are seven practical tips on how to live in the moment in everyday life:
Acknowledge and embrace your pain. By allowing yourself to feel what is happening when it is happening and not ignoring it, you can move through the process of grief. Your feelings are real and they are experienced at 100 percent. Trying to focus on something else just delays the process of healing.
Give me a break
Listen to yourself and your body. If you are tired, take a break. Prop your feet up, don’t push yourself. If you can’t physically stop and prop your feet up, take three good deep breaths in through the nose and exhale them through the mouth slowly. This can give you a burst of energy and change your bio-rythms.
Focus on what is happening now. Do your best not to worry about the future. Instead, focus on getting along one moment at a time at first, and then move to getting through an hour at a time, and then a day.
What a feeling
If you feel sad, allow yourself to feel sad. If you feel happy, enjoy it. It will re-energize you.
When you’re in a conversation, concentrate fully on what the person is saying both verbally and non-verbally instead of trying to figure out how you are going to answer or what you have to do next.
One a day
Attack your problems one at a time. Do not let yourself be pulled in multiple directions at once. Instead, stay focused on each task until you get it done and then move on to the next. You’ll be surprised to find that all there is to be done can be done, and that is was not as overwhelming as it appeared.
Dare to share
Just admire nature, your friends and your family. Embrace the moments you have with them. Tell them what you feel when you feel it. This can prevent explosive anger that builds up and will always help alleviate regrets for things not said or expressed if someone dies.