Staying in the present, ‘the now’, being mindful, living in the moment – whichever way you choose to describe it, it is something I really struggle with. My mind is often worrying and wondering; What if this awful thing happens tomorrow? What if this doesn’t work out? What if the meeting doesn’t go well at work tomorrow? What if I fail? And so on…
No matter how often I worry about the future or how often I dwell on the past, it doesn’t make any difference and it never will. It doesn’t change the past and life never hands me a crystal ball to foresee my future with (as much as I would like it to).
So why do I do it? In fact, why do we all do it? Maybe it’s because our minds don’t know the difference, or perhaps it’s our anxiety talking, who knows. All I know is, it definitely doesn’t help my life or anyone else’s for that matter.
Eckhart Tole spends a lot of his book, ‘The Power of Now’, talking about the fact that time is an illusion. This was a lot to get my head around. How can time be an illusion? It’s 11.30am right now. It is! I swear! My clock is telling me so! How can my clock be an illusion? Perhaps Tole uses this theory to force our minds to forget about time altogether, as sort of an attempt to enable us to remain in the present moment. However, I’m not sure how we would live without the concept of time? Did we not invent the concept for a reason? Or should we have never invented it in the first place? Or are we to simply pretend it’s not there until we’re in the next moment? I’m thinking too much again…
I suppose nothing does exist outside of the present moment and we should learn to remain within it. I still can’t help but wonder…where do we draw the line? Does always remaining in the present mean that we can never discuss the future? Does it mean that we can never reminisce on past events? Does it mean that we should avoid making plans and be more spontaneous?
Why do we worry? What does this achieve? Absolutely nothing! Why do we dwell on the past, when we will never be able to go back and change it? And why do we worry about the future, when we will never have complete control over it?
The answer: It’s all in our minds and we are not our minds. We do however, have the power to control our minds and one of the first and most powerful steps to doing so is to just be in the moment.
I am still not an expert at being in the moment by any means! But here are a few of the little things I’ve started to do, which seem to be helping me get there:
Turn your phone off at work
Of late, when I get to work in the morning I turn my phone off and put it in my handbag and then I don’t turn it on again until my lunch break. Then I can respond to text messages, check my Facebook, Instagram, whatever during my break time. Then after lunch, I turn it off again until the end of the working day. That way, the entire morning and afternoon I spend working, is actually spent working! Not working, then glancing at your phone every few minutes to see if you have a message is something we tend to do… and if we don’t have a message, we may feel disappointed, or if we do have a message we will respond to it. Next thing we know, we’ve just sent our best friend 10 text messages and just lost 15 minutes of valuable work time. And most of important of all…we weren’t completely in the moment!
I know what you’re thinking. Turn my phone off? What if there is an emergency? Well, if you’re like me, your parents and close friends will know your direct line at work, so if it’s something urgent they can call you there. So, unless you require your mobile for work purposes, then there is absolutely no reason why your phone needs to be on at work.
Cut down your Social Media time
I don’t know about you, but I was (and still am at times) a Facebook addict! I went through a stage where I checked Facebook every hour. Every hour! I know – how sad was I?
I am gradually cutting down. I’m not cutting it out completely and I have my reasons for that. However, I have cut down to checking it only once a day and I actually log out of the app once I’ve finished, so I don’t get any notifications popping up on my phone. That way, when I’m doing something else with my time, I can be completely in the moment.
As weird as it may sound, I even recommend you have allocated social media days, or days where you just don’t check it at all. Because when you’re not on social media you have a chance to just focus on yourself and what you are doing and nobody or nothing else matters during that time! It really is freeing!
I have only recently started the practice of Yoga, but I can already see the changes, not only in my body, but in my mind too.
If you have never tried yoga or don’t know much about it, the reason it’s such a wonderful tool for learning to be in the moment is because as well as being about stretching and toning your body, it’s also about your breath. Listening to, following and being in complete control of your breath. So the whole session, you’re only focusing on your movements and your breath and once you get a lot of practice, you learn to completely shut off your mind. Not only during the practice of yoga, but at other times to.
So whether you keep reading ‘The Power of Now’ over and over, turn your phone off at work, cut down on social media, practice Yoga, or all of the above, I ask you to join me in doing your best to live in the present moment, here and now.