Living In The Moment: Here And Now

There is a story often told about a person stranded on their roof by a torrential rain that has already flooded the rest of their home. They wait to be rescued by some higher power. As they live in the moment, their body at risk on their flooding rooftop, their mind decides how they want to be saved. So, they wait.

In the end, the victim does not make it to dry land. Now on the other side looking back, they wonder at the reason they weren't rescued. It never occurs to them that the many helicopters and boats that came by could have taken them to safety had they just gotten on board. The only reason they did not is the boats and choppers weren't the way they imagined they should be saved.

What Does It Mean To Live In The Moment?

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The simplest way to explain living in the moment is that it's “keeping your head where your feet are planted.” Case in point: If the person on the roof had been living in the moment, they would have grabbed any opportunity for help when it came their way.

Why Present-Mindedness Is Important

Though the story of a person trapped on the roof is an extreme example of what can happen if we do not live in the moment, it clearly illustrates how our thoughts can harm or help us, and how keeping a clear head can not only keep us alive, but keep us able to live our best life.

Know The Signs

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You just finished your dinner, but you have no memory of eating it. While you were cutting and chewing, you were also watching some sporting event on television and trying to figure out how you were going to get the car to the dealership before work in the morning. Your meal looked so good on the plate and you were really looking forward to eating it, but that's the last thing you remember as you finish the last bite, thinking it must have been delicious.

You spent a half hour on the road getting to your destination. Pulling into the parking space, you realize you do not remember anything about the ride: not a tree or another driver on the road. Every once in a while, you even wind up on a strange road having no recollection of where you made the turn off the route; the same one you take every day.

The radio is on as you shower and get ready for the day or evening out. You hum or sing along to every song as you dress and straighten up the bathroom, count the money in your wallet, and make yourself a coffee. You turn off the radio to leave the house. If someone were to ask you what songs you had been listening to, and singing along with, for the last two hours, you would not be able to tell them.

We have all experienced those cloudy spots when our mind drifts to thoughts we aren't even able to recall.

So Many Ways To Lose Track

Daydreaming, hoping for something better in the future, or worrying too much about what lies ahead are just a few of the mental meanderings that keep us from living in the moment. Running ahead in the “what if” lane makes it impossible to keep our heads moving in rhythm with our feet.

If you're taking a nice walk in the park with a new friend but thinking about what you will pack for your trip next week with an old friend, or If you're wondering if this new friend will turn out to be a lasting friendship or if they will drift away, you're not able to enjoy the moment.

Then there is the past; fretting over events that happened, things we didn't do, or wishing we were doing things again. You're on this nice walk today but remembering a walk in the past that wasn't so pleasurable or wishing you were out with someone else spoils the experience with the person you are with now.

Wallowing in the past and obsessing on the future are both roads that lead us to nowhere. Although the origin of this quote is unknown, it makes an excellent point: "Yesterday is history. Tomorrow is a mystery. Today is a gift. That's why it is called the present." Mindfulness is a current term used to describe the opening of this gift. We all want to be happy; but what does it really mean?

Live In The Moment And Reap The Rewards

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Mindfulness, or the act of “being here now”, is essential to living your best life. Philosophers and spiritual leaders have long examined the stress caused by worry, catastrophising (imagining the worst outcome), and wallowing in regret. Therapists warn of the anxiety caused by depending on future events to happen exactly as planned or by holding on to resentments that stem from negative past events.

Physicians warn that stress and anxiety play a major role in jeopardizing good health. You need to eat right, get enough rest, practice self-care and do things that give you peace of mind. But how do you control your thoughts that seem to “have a mind of their own?” It's not as simple as it sounds to chill out and live in the moment. But it is possible

How To Live In The Moment

Yoga masters guide us in how to breathe. So do hypnotherapists, to make us open to suggestion. The point of both is to get us to slow down, relax, and be mentally and emotionally available. To give ourselves to the surrounding energy, right now.

Focus On Your Breath

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In putting your mind to conscious work, you force it from the chaos of random thought and worry. In yoga practice, we are guided, in organized blocks of time, to slow down and pay attention only to our bodies. We are encouraged to feel our connection to the earth and to our inner power.

Through that activity, we are consistently reminded to practice mindfulness; to be in the moment. Stay in the moment. Live in the moment. Breathe.

The practice of meditation works in a similar way. With a mantra of words and physical stillness, we pull our attention back from the mental freeway moving so fast inside our heads, to the quiet of the here and now.

Focus On The Specifics

The practice of awareness, of noticing everything as if for the first time, is a great method of disciplining ourselves to not only live in the moment, but to live each moment more fully. Feeling our experiences to the fullest will lead us to a happier place in the here and now. We learn to be more present with ourselves, with others, with the world around us.

The Practice Of Savoring

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Think of each bite of that meal as you chew. A little “stop and smell the roses” philosophy, put into conscientious practice, goes a long way to keeping your heart beating happy and healthy and your blood pressure low. Instead of just plowing through your assignments to make it to Friday, take each day and every task at work as an opportunity to do your best and give it your all. Taking the TGIF out of the work equation will equal more enjoyment of every day.

Journal Your Troubles Away

Whatever is weighing on your brain, put it on paper and leave it there. Acknowledging the emotions that are taking up valuable space in your head, if only to yourself, helps release you from the hold they have, freeing you to move forward into your day. The same holds true for unfinished business that has you distracted. Make a list. Let the list hold the obligations and your good intention to complete the tasks. Then, mentally let go of your unfinished business and go back to whatever it is you are doing at the present time. Your list will be there.

Let Go Of The Hurt

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Forgiveness may be the hardest of all barriers to break through to get to a better, more peaceful place where you are able to enjoy life. Of course the harm others have caused you was not your fault, but the pain you allow them to inflict on your heart after the initial hurt has occurred becomes your responsibility.

Suffering is an action we allow long after we have been a victim of someone else's thoughtlessness or cruelty, and only through forgiveness can we make that suffering end. It doesn't mean you will forget what happened to cause your pain; it just means you don't have to continue to feel it like an open wound and allow it to impede your current and ongoing happiness.

Free Yourself Of Possessions

Sometimes, the things we cherish the most get in the way of our happiness. Carrying the baggage, whether it's beautiful china plates or love letters from our past, often keeps us from being able to live in the moment. You can't afford the big new place, but you have so many things you can't part with. You know that person is gone, but you have their sweatshirt in a box along with a napkin they once used.

Mindfulness suggests you take a sober and honest look at all that you are holding onto and assess its true value as it applies to your life today. Is that box of pictures bringing you joy, or simply the weight of the box, and the history that goes along with it; holding onto memories you need to get rid of so that you can live healthier in the moment.

Smiling: A Simple But Successful Solution

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In 1950, Judy Garland sang the lyrics “Forget your Troubles, Come on get Happy” as she danced a joyous musical number. The message is a good one we can all learn from, but the example of her performance is even more relevant to the point of living in the moment than the words of the song.

While doing the song and dance number, Garland put all her positive energy into the moment, and it is obvious that she is enjoying the performance. Whatever may have come before she threw herself into the job or came after the camera stopped rolling, in that moment, she was filled with joy.

Sometimes it isn't easy to think our way to a better place, to live in the moment, without being weighed down by fear or anxiety just because we want to feel good. Of course we do. Sometimes the simple act of putting a smile on our face, can change the course of our day. It can inspire kindness in those we encounter. It can cause us to recognize the beauty around us we may miss if we allow ourselves to settle into misery or regret.

When our brains are unable to free us of our emotions, when our thoughts are racing beyond our control, it can help to move beyond reasoning and change our behavior. The physical act of smiling on the outside can work to overpower inner sadness as it draws good energy from others and reminds us of the good things we can be grateful for. One step at a time. One moment of appreciation at a time.

Conclusion

Whether it is the ancient practice of yoga, tai chi, mindful meditation, or a physical inventory of discomforts that mentally hold us back, we all need to learn how to keep the effects of obsessive thoughts to a minimum. We must find a way to live in the moment to maximize the quality of our life. The past is gone, and the future hasn't happened yet. Take a look around. Listen to the lyrics as you sing them. And don't forget to breathe.

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