Thursday, July 28, 2011

The Only Place to Be is Right Now!

As I watch the antics of the politicians in Washington DC who seem to be playing dodgeball with the economic future of our nation, I realize that the only place for me to be in is this very moment. As an exercise in raising anxiety and blood pressure, watching our government do its work is second only to being a spectator at a bear baiting match.   How can we escape the stress and uncertainty about a future we seem as individuals to have absolutely no control over and, worse, seem to have handed over to a bunch of middle aged teenagers bent on playing a high stakes game of chicken?

I'm taking a quick break from continuing with my list of Clues to staying in the present, to address the issue of right now as I feel the anxiety level of the whole nation rise in unison.  What can we do as individuals to stay out of this stressful force field emanating from our capital out towards us all?

I was inspired to title this blog - The Rest of My Life is Now - and I see that there is no more urgent need for me to believe this than today.  If I am to believe what I see on television and read in the newspapers then The Rest of My Life is......over.  Tomorrow will be worse than today and the day after that worse, the week after that disastrous and the month after that catastrophic!  What kind of a life will that be and what hope is there for the future?

What nonsense.  Right now, today, everything is much the same as it was yesterday.  I am still breathing.  I am still alive.  I have the option to be happy if I choose to be.  I can find hope and gratitude if I open my eyes and look.  I can relax and be content. 

The future is always uncertain.  Even if we believe some things are predictable (I do believe the sun will come up tomorrow as it did today for example), most are not written in stone.  There are many, many options, many, many choices, many, many possibilities.  That's what makes the future exciting!  However, most of us have only a certain level of tolerance for excitement.  We need a good balance of peace and calm.  Therefore, being out in the future too much is not good for us.  We don't have control of the future and uncertainty brings anxiety.

Now is the place to be.  Right now everything is all right.  The world is still turning.  I can focus on my breath - in, out, in, out.  In this moment, there can be peace.  In every moment I can find that stillness that houses serenity and calm.  It is always there if only I will return to find it and today that is more important than ever.

Monday, June 6, 2011

Clue #2 - How do I feel right now?

I used to believe that I was a slave to my feelings.  I thought I had to feel a certain way before I could get things done.  I would put off taking action on many items in my life because I didn't feel "right" or I was unhappy or depressed or out of sorts.

While I understand that sometimes actions and feelings work together for optimum results, I also know today that getting things done, solving my problems and taking actions that are beneficial to my life are not necessarily dependent on how I feel at the time.

The one big question I have always had about operating from the immediate moment is "But what if the now is really uncomfortable?"  What I really want to ask is "How do I do now when now - quite frankly - sucks?"

The one big answer that comes to me however when I ask that, also comes in the form of a question.  "But how do you know if now really sucks or if you just FEEL it does?"

The crux of the matter relies on whether or not I believe that I have any power whatsoever over my feelings or if I believe that I must just ride out the tide of my emotions without a paddle or a sail or, for that matter, a compass.  This is what I used to believe.  Then someone set me straight.

They told me that I was in charge, that I had the power to decide and choose what feelings I felt and what emotions I expressed.  I heard things like "fake it until you make it" and "this too shall pass" and I began to understand that just as I can treat a physical wound with ointments, bandages and antiseptic, so I can tend to my emotions and heal them through acknowledging my power to do so and using the amazing power of my mind and spirit to turn them around.

Sometimes this is quick, almost instant and sometimes it takes a while.  The long, slow process unfolds as I apply these techniques but a process it is and it works.

Clue #2 then to staying and operating in the now, is to recognize that we have power over our own emotions and can make choices around them.  Abraham Lincoln famously said that "Most folks are as happy as they make up their minds to be."  Lincoln suffered from chronic depression all his adult life and so his words are especially poignant and......believable.  They seem to suggest a man who researched his own ability to heal himself and put it into action.  If he can do it and lead a country, then perhaps there is hope for you and me?!!

Another factor to ask ourselves regarding the influence we allow our emotions to have over us is whether or not we are really feeling those feelings right now or if we have dragged them into the present from the past or the future.

If I get mad with someone and keep that anger alive by playing the wrongdoing over and over again in my mind thus creating a resentment, I know that I am dragging it along with me into my every moment.  Instead, I might choose to let it lie in the past by refusing to replay the scenario and letting it rest in peace.

On the other hand, if I speculate about potential disasters that might occur in the future, I can do the same thing with my fear and anxiety and suck them into my present when nothing has yet happened!

Are your feelings holding you back in the present moment?  Are you choosing to feel angry, resentful, vengeful or just generally p......ed off?!!  Or do you, like Abraham Lincoln, choose to be as happy as you want to be?  Do you believe you are in charge of your emotions or are you a slave to them?

Examining what we are feeling right now and whether that feeling belongs in the present, the past or the future can help us to operate in the moment from a level of comfort and peace and give us choices we never even dreamed of!

I do not believe anymore that I need to be a victim of my own feelings.  I know that this is an area of my life where I am truly powerful charge!  What about you?

Sunday, May 29, 2011

The Body and The Now

We all know it's by far the best thing to stay in the present.  We've heard Eckhard Tolle espouse The Power of Now and agree, yes - we should do it!  The question is ....... how?

I'm a Gemini.  That means that as an air sign not only am I flying high a lot of the time, I'm also up in my head for a great many hours.  Which in turn means that I am NOT in my body.  When I began to ponder this dilemma of how to stay in the now, I realized that it is my body not my mind that is always in the present.  My body is always here right now.  Therefore one of the things that takes me out of my present reality is my tendency to be out of my body and up in my head.

Thoughts occur now but they are rarely OF the now.  My thoughts are usually about what just happened or what might happen next.  Rarely do I think, oh look, there are my feet, planted on the ground right now!  No, no.  I have to have much more lofty thoughts than that.  What was the meaning of that remark that person just made?  Was it about me?  If not why not?  Why weren't they paying attention to what I was saying?  Didn't I do it right?  How can I get them to notice my important messages? etc., etc., etc.

Perhaps Clue Number 1 for staying in the present is to stay firmly centered in my body?  If I focus on my physical self - how does it feel?  What does it need?  Is it hungry?  Is it tired?  Is it cold?  Warm?  Rested?  Sore?  Then I will truly be in now.

But what if my body isn't great right now?  What if it hurts?  What if it's sick?  Well, maybe I'd better do something to help it feel better.  Take care of it.  Now there's a good thought.  Taking care of myself. 

Taking care of myself and in particular my physical body, keeps me in the now!

Of course, there are times when I need to consider the past or make choices for the future, but not all the time.  Focus on the present brings the benefit of self care and that in turn, makes tomorrow possible.

Bringing myself down from the air, down out of my head, and back into my physical body is something I can do when I get far away from the present moment.  There's always some small task of self-care and maintenance I can focus on.  There is a body to be showered, skin to be pampered, teeth to be cleaned, nails to be groomed, hair to be brushed, a thirst to be satisfied.  I look at my cat.  He spends an enormous amount of time grooming himself and he doesn't seem to be bothered about being self-centered!

If this is Clue Number 1, then there must be this space!

Thursday, May 26, 2011

The Now Factor

The answers to the most perplexing dilemmas usually come, it seems, in unexpected ways - quite out of left field, from outside the box, a bolt from the blue.  Maybe that's why they strike and stay.  Maybe that's what is meant to happen.....

A while ago an event occurred in my life.  It was a repetitive situation, one that I had struggled with before many times.  Each time, instead of the experience shedding more light on what to do and how to respond, I felt an increasing confusion as to how to respond and a heavier burden of sorrow.  What to do?  How to handle this?  Instructions please.  A How To manual for getting on top of this thing is what I needed.

This time I responded ...... exactly the same.  I did the one thing I knew from past experience worked - I removed myself - but the feelings were just the same.  I sat for a moment and waited.  I don't know what I was waiting for but something much greater than me did, and it delivered.

Without ceremony, that unexpected thing happened, that out-of-left-field, outside-of-the-box, bolt-from-the-blue (and all those other weary cliches) event.  A thought appeared in my mind.

Now this wasn't a thought that I put there.  I know that for sure.  It was far too profound for my basic mind.  It was planted.  It was downloaded by the Universe completely formed so that I could not ignore it, nor twist it into something it wasn't, nor tear it apart with analysis.  It just was.

It said, "What just happened is now in the past."

I was stunned.  I examined the thought as if it was emblazoned in lights across a neon billboard.  Immediately the vast implications of this statement began to unfold in front of me.  If what happened was now in the past why did I need to be experiencing it right now?  Could I truly leave it in the past?  How would I do that?  Did that mean that I had a choice with this thing?  Was it really that simple?

The effect of that moment is still with me.  That's what this blog is about.  How do I examine a thought that simple and.....that big?  Probably only through rambling around the issues it raises.

I could do it alone in a journal but I decided not.  I'm willing to share.....if you are willing to listen and maybe respond. 

The rest of my life is NOW and I have a choice to make it so.