It's happening. Slowly, but surely, I’m beginning to believe that there’s actually something to the much talked about and celebrated act of being present. Until recently, I didn’t fully realize the incredible power of this seemingly small act. The reality is that ‘living in the present moment’ or ‘coming back to the Now’, though simple, is not at all easy. Such a basic concept….become aware of your breathing and of this very moment...nothing else.
Why is the practice so mind-blowingly difficult?!
The idea of mindful living isn’t new to me. I’ve been hearing about and reading about the Now for years...Jon Kabat-Zin, Thich Nhat Hanh, Pema Chödrön...I read their words, yet only absorbed a few.
Obviously, I wasn’t really ready for the message until recently. I understood the idea and the benefits of staying present, but I wasn’t living it.
Grasping something intellectually is definitely not the same thing as actually doing it.
I was happily comprehending, but not really doing the work. I was playing it safe and then wondering why nothing was changing. Kind of foolish, huh?
Everyone is different, but for me Eckhart Tolle and two of his books were like lightning bolts.
For the past few months, I have been re-reading Mr. Tolle’s words and working towards becoming more present.
I’m all in. 100% committed to really living more of each day in the Now.
Well, I’d love to report that I’m fully enlightened, spending each and every day fully conscious and as a byproduct, my life is blissfully perfect.
Nope. Not even close.
But...something is different.
Things are happening, shifting, changing as a result of my paying more attention to Now.
Please know that there are still enormous chunks of time that pass with my mind in complete control. I’m lost inside the sea of thoughts with absolutely no regard for the present moment.
In those times,
I remain unbelievably unaware that I’m unaware. Crazy.
However, when I finally return from all the thinking, from what seems a bit like a dream, I’m able to recognize that I’ve been ‘gone’ and then happily stay present for a few seconds.
Sadly, it seems that a few seconds at a time of present moment living is all most people can manage. It’s ridiculously difficult to stay present in the midst of our full lives. It’s even difficult when sitting in silent meditation. Wacky really.
Our mind wants to call all the shots and if we don’t wake up...it does. Filling us with worry, anxiety, stress, anger, fear...that all seem very real and almost impossible to escape.
If you are one of the lucky humans who’s already figured this out, I applaud you and I’m a bit envious. I feel like I’m late to the mindfulness party.
But, in this instance I’m banking on…”better late than never”.
Ready to try it for yourself?
It's not too late to start...
If you haven’t read The Power of Now and A New Earth (both by Eckhart Tolle), begin there. Check them out of your local library or order them from Amazon. Both (used) books combined will cost less than $25. I’m honestly feeling like they were the best investment I’ve made in years.
Seems obvious, but I’ve been known to buy a book with great intentions and then never actually crack it open. You’ve got to commit to reading the words.
Notice the Now.
Start catching the present moment. Once you get the hang of it, the act of recognizing the Now becomes a little game. Try and see how often you can be present in an hour or an afternoon. Be prepared to fail miserably and then laugh at yourself.
The wonderful thing is that the present moment continues to repeat itself over and over again for the rest of your life. Every day we are given 86,400 seconds to try again. Lots of opportunities for success
Watch for changes..this has been the most remarkable part for me. I never imagined that by being more present in my life I’d begin to see things with so much clarity. Sure, I’d read about that happening for other people, but my expectations were low. Mind blown.
Here’s a bit of what I’m experiencing…
I enjoy the foamy milk on my morning coffee
I actually hear the laughter of my children
I notice my husband’s beautiful blue eyes
I feel the energy of the plants in my home
I’m drawn in by the flicker of a candle flame
I hear music more deeply
I’m in complete awe of the power of a sunrise or a sunset
and here's a less cliche example...
I recently had an exchange with my youngest son that made us both aware of how much I’m shifting. .
During a school day, I received the following text from Henry regarding his cell phone.
“Crap, I wrecked my screen...it still works, but it’s super broken”.
The truth is that a new iPhone isn’t really in the budget right now. I sincerely wish that his phone wasn’t going to need to be replaced any time soon.
However, as a result of the simple yet profound words of my new guru:-), Eckhart Tolle...I chose to accept the situation as it is.
I didn’t resist and become angry or irritated.
I was able to reply to my son’s text with kindness and compassion and presence of mind.
After exchanging a few texts about the phone situation, he actually wrote…
“Thanks for being so kind about this. I was worried.”
(as in, he was worried I’d completely freak out...and I’m sure I would have a few months ago)
If I’d tried to find a real life example of the power of Now...I couldn’t have come up with one this meaningful. It matter how I treat people. Being present helps me be a better person.
My actions and reactions are changing.
I know this maybe sounds corny, hokey or far out. And I agree.
But I also know that I’m seeing things differently. And the most bizarre part is that I can actually FEEL it happening. It’s wild! And it’s wonderful.
How well do you manage to stay present throughout the day? What's your best tip? Please share! I always enjoy learning what works for others.
Thank you for being here. Questions and comments are always welcome.
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Hello, I'm Kristen.
As a personal stylist,