A Radical Clinging to the Present Moment
Do you know those moments when life feels like it’s imploding on you?
Everything feels so overwhelming. The bills seem like they are piling up, communication feels like it’s not working, your heart can’t seem to stop breaking, things aren’t going the way you want, and the unknown future feels like it’s closing in on you.
What do you do in those moments?
Do you hide, distract or avoid them by clinging to things that you think we will make it go away? And they may, for a small period of time, but eventually the food stops working and the drinks only make it worse; nothing you do seems to temper the constant humming of worry.
But then there is a break—a moment in the midst of chaos when everything seems to be OK, even though none of what you are worried about has resolved itself yet. Why do you think that is? I will tell you why. It is because for that brief moment in time something has brought your awareness to the present moment. Something has called your attention away from the story of the past or the fret of the future. Without knowing it, you have found refuge in one single moment—this moment—right now. And in this moment, you are able to feel yourself exhale, as if you have been holding your breath for an unbelievable amount of time.
And it feels good.
The other day I was lost in the drama of my mind, worried about a plethora of decisions I have made and fearing the negative effects they will have on my future. I was caught up in the labyrinth of my world and worry was overtaking me.
I was feeling agitated and fidgety.
I was having a hard time sitting in my seat.
The music seemed so loud I couldn’t think straight.
And then suddenly my attention was called back into the room I was in. I was in a yoga studio with a bunch of classmates who were laughing and goofing off. It seemed like the overbearing speed metal noise that was deafening me just a minute ago had stopped. In fact, there wasn’t any music on in the room at all. The loud music I thought I was hearing was just the internal sound of chaos in my brain. The only thing I could hear now was the giggling of my classmates supporting each other into silly poses and welcoming me to join in.
I watched them for a moment realizing that I had just been missing out on this fun playtime with friends. This is what life is for, these play times, and I was missing it by allowing my attention to get caught up in some imaginary place in my mind. None of what I was worrying about was happening right then. I had this once in a lifetime opportunity to be with an incredible group of people for this month-long training I was taking and I was missing out on it.
I can’t begin to tell you what a strange and wonderful awareness that was.
Over the next couple days, every time I would catch myself worrying about something I would stop and ask myself, “What is going on in the room right now?” And every time I would ask myself that I would look around and see all sorts of fun adventurous things taking place. I would tell myself, “Forget about that story, let’s be present for now. You can deal with that when the time comes.”
That began a new practice I decided to take on for the remainder of the month of this training.
Just as I have clung to my stories and worries, I was going to radically, desperately cling to the present moment. I would do that by constantly calling myself back into the room whenever I noticed the worry enter me.
A shift started to come about.
My worries seemed to dull. The joy of being in this yoga training seemed to take center stage. I was more engaged. Playfulness began to take the place of worry. And even more impressively, when I would be faced with some of the things I was stressing about when I got home at night I seemed to handle them better, without the stress. I was more present and less reactionary. They didn’t seem as big of a deal. They were still issues I had to deal with, but my relationship to them didn’t seem as dramatic. And because my relationship to them changed so did my way of dealing with them and what resulted from that were resolutions. Amazing.
When we worry about something we are taking our mind out of the present moment. We are dissecting and fabricating. We are assuming and imagining. We are not in what is happening NOW. And what is happening now is your life. Y O U R L I F E.
Even if what you are doing in the moment is unpleasant or boring, who cares? It will be over soon and as Mary Oliver says, “this is your one wild and precious life”, so you might as well live the remaining moments you have with it—in it—fully present, fully aware and fully engaged. You deserve it.