We live in an era of disturbance, of interference, of distraction yet our futures will be determined by the amount of attention we pay to the present. Lots of things have changed for me lately, some big moves have been made for sure and I’m looking ahead to the future, but should I be?
Life unfolds in front of our eyes every day, every minute of every day, every second, and so often do we rush through the waking hours, wishing away our time, letting the present pass us by. When we’re in work, sat at our desk we’re wishing we were home already. When we’re at the gym prepping for that holiday in 4 months’ time, we’re wishing we were there, cocktail in hand. Our minds are already fragmented with all the chores and to-do lists of life and living and nudging our time away by anticipating the future that’s not here yet or recalling past moments that we cannot change is another way of recklessly disposing of our present time.
Worrying is something we all do. Worry about the past; should we have done or said what we did, worrying about the future; will this happen and when, but we all need to learn to live more in the moment, in the now, in real time. Our minds, with the crazy monkey in tow are like thunderous waterfalls full of thoughts, plans and worries making us anxious, stressed and sometimes scared. We are often pinned down and prohibited by our mind, overwhelmed with our thoughts of the past and the future, so much so that we forget to live in the present day, to enjoy what’s happening to us right now.
We’ve all been there, when you drive to work, something you’ve done hundreds of times yet you don’t remember the journey. You almost blackout, your mind is elsewhere, you’ve strayed off into your thoughts. The psychologists call that ‘autopilot’, when you’re so lost in your own bubble reminiscing the past and planning the future that you’re nowhere near the now or your present existence. We seem to stop paying attention to things that we’ve already experienced but every day is different, be that the fallen leaves, the light on the river, the faces we see. We should always try to look at the world with fresh eyes, in that given moment, which is happening to us right now.
The way to change this cycle is quite simple. Whenever we feel the world is on our shoulders, that there’s just too much to deal with and we’re worried about the past or the future, we just need to stop for a moment, to pause, to breathe.
Living in the moment is known as mindfulness, an act of focussing on the present time. Learning to live a mindful life is to purposely pay attention to the present, to become a bystander of your life and thoughts, looking in from the outside. To focus on what you’re feeling without reacting, to accept certain things are out of your control, to let negative feedback pass you by but to appreciate the sounds, smells and sights of that coffee shop as you sit alone quietly, people watching.
We must learn to appreciate and indulge in whatever we’re doing for however long it lasts. Taking a bath or shower, listening to the radio, eating a cookie, whatever it may be. Next time you do this, actually think about what you’re doing, take in your surroundings, how does it make you feel physically and mentally? Mark Twain’s quote on life’s worries reiterates the truth that worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet, and might not happen at all, or that already has is not the best use of ones time.
We’re all apparently part of something bigger than us and taking a leaf out of Buddha’s book, who is at the root of all mindfulness practices, I have done a lot of research on the subject lately and have, over the last few weeks attempted to incorporate this into my life, along with daily meditation and weekly yoga.
If I can find a way of appreciating time more, maybe it will become my friend and slow down just a little, something I would be grateful for. Taking longer to sit, drink and taste that hot chocolate would not be a problem.