Living in the Now

11 Dec

“Living in the moment brings you a sense of reverence for all of life’s
blessings.” – Oprah Winfrey

One of the greatest challenges for me is to be “in present time.”  As an only child I constantly entertained myself by surrounding myself with imaginary companions in imaginary places.

True confessions: I carried that practice into adulthood. Remember The Secret Life of Walter Mitty by James Thurber? The main character lived through a series of day dreams, transforming himself into a larger-than-life hero. Some label it as escapism. But how many of us take those momentary trips into “another reality” every day? Whether we’re involved in an escapist fantasy, or just having an imagined conversation with the boss, or our spouse, or whomever….that time we spend “somewhere else” is time we are NOT in Present Time.

Oprah’s point is that we miss out on the gifts of the moment when we fail to be present in the moment. I am reminded of some exercises shared years ago by my spiritual mentor and Elder Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha.

When you’re standing in the shower, just be in the shower. Feel the water…is it cold or hot…is it gentle or piercing? Be present in the moment.

Sounds silly? Okay – Reality Check: Had any good (or bad) conversations in the shower lately with somebody who isn’t there? Maybe you take that time to plan out your day. But there’s a time for that. The shower or bath (just as an example) is a place where we can honor the “Body Temple” and nurture ourselves. We’re literally starting the day “clean and refreshed.” How much more effective is that as a practice if we’re conscious about doing it?

Today I can laugh at myself and recognize when I’ve “gone away” momentarily. My favorite self-speak for that occasion comes from the movie, The Matrix.  “Focus Trinity,” I’ll tell myself and laugh!

When we stay present in the moment, we will see the beauty of our surroundings on that morning commute, or notice a child’s soulful eyes or their playful laughter. We can focus on the individual whose talking to us and give them one of the greatest gifts we can give each other: our full attention.

When we’re not so pre-occupied with our own thoughts, we are more able to notice if someone else is struggling and lend them a hand…hold a door open…or maybe just smile.

Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha has shared some valuable techniques for helping to be present in the moment. Conscious physical contact with an object, for example. Touch something and be aware that that’s what you’re doing.

“I’m touching the desk.” Feel it. Focus on it.

Look at a point above your head, then to the left, then to the right. Choose something to focus on with intent. It only takes a second.

Want to “ground” yourself? Pick up your right foot and set it back down, feeling the surface beneath it. Repeat with the left foot. You don’t have to be “heavy-footed” about it, but this simple point of contact can help to keep you in the present.

Being in the present helps us, as Ms. Winfrey and Grandmother Pa’Ris’Ha remind us, to receive the blessings of our day. The more we allow ourselves to become consciously aware of those blessings, the richer our lives become. As we acknowledge those blessings, our reverence for the gift of life multiples one-thousand fold!

-Deborah Adler

©2010 Deborah Adler. All rights reserved.

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