June 10, 2016
Let’s say that we don’t necessarily need to have a precise definition of what a “present moment” is in order to make use of it. Let’s say, for example, that the present moment is like an iPhone, in that we don’t need to know how it works or who designed it in order to benefit from it. Living in the present can be like that.
After all, most of life is like that. Take the human body, for example. Who among us can explain how a gallbladder works in such a way that the gallbladder itself works better? Learning everything that there is to know about an organ does not necessarily allow us to reap greater benefits from it. It does what it is designed to do despite our knowledge or lack of knowledge. That is, the gallbladder will help us digest fat and produce bile regardless of whether we know how it does it or not.
Or, take gravity, for example. We don’t need to understand science in order to see something fall when we drop it. Each and every time. Pick something up, let it go…it will fall.
So, being caught up in trying to understand what “being present” means will, by definition, take us farther from the goal that we are after. That is because, in order to ask the question we must step outside of the present moment, which is constantly reinventing itself as the next “present moment”. As we capture one moment, the next has already replaced it.
It’s like trying to capture the motion of the tide by scooping up water from the ocean. As soon as we hold it, it ends. We cannot stop a moment long enough to look at it and analyze it.
Time is like that.
So, what can be done about it and how can we embrace the power of the present moment?
Here are two easy exercises to try:
- Accept that we all have a past and that it cannot be rewritten or changed, it can only be learned from. Most people are pulled out of the present by thinking about things from the past that cannot be changed. By mentally agreeing to accept the past for what it was, and acknowledging that it can be a learning tool, allows us to position ourselves in the here and now. A simple affirmation is this: I can accept my past and grow stronger from it.
- Schedule time to “do nothing”. Write it down on your calendar, set your timer, and grab a cup of coffee or tea. Commit to truly doing nothing. Start small, try it for 5-10 minutes each day. Some call this “floating the cork”. Just sit and let your mind wander in and out of its thoughts like a cork floating in water. Like the gallbladder from earlier, our mind will keep thinking and producing new thoughts effortlessly—and, we can watch it. Set aside some time to just let the mind relax and do its thing. Observe the mind and allow whatever rises to the surface to be there. In most cases, our mind will present us with thoughts that can be valuable—especially when it relates to ideas that we are trying to avoid thinking about, which can be exhausting.
What situations allow your mind to drift and to truly be where you are—not in the past or the future, but in the now?
Be your greatness. Start. Do. Go.
Zach Carlsen is the grateful lead blogger at StrengthsLife.com
His strengths of Ideation, Connectedness, Input, Strategic, and Empathy have taken him all over the world. He is an inventor, athlete, joyous wanderer/wonderer, translator, poet, and Transformation Coach.
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