While I was in the shower this morning, I found myself getting annoyed and worked up…
I recently broke up with the woman I was dating. So I was grappling with my ego and mulling over the past. Realizing that I had created this negative mental spiral, I asked myself “What am I doing RIGHT NOW?” My answer was simply “I’m in the shower.” No problems, nothing bad happening to me, just water happily running over my body.
Of course, parting ways with someone close to you is difficult, but being completely present helped me to transcend the incessant, ego-driven thought loops that didn’t serve me.
To be clear, I’m not saying to suppress or ignore emotions. They must be acknowledged and dealt with or they will manifest in insidious ways. I’m merely pointing out that, through presence, I was able to stop the repetitive, problem-creating “ego-talk” that wasn’t doing me any good.
Combine intense presence with viewing everything as a learning experience or challenge (see: The Challenge Perspective), and you’ll be alright no matter what.
“There’s no place quite like here. There’s no better time than now.” – Jhene Aiko
Be here totally. Be here now.
When you’re completely in the moment, you feel blissful no matter what. It just works that way. But when we obsess over the past or future, everything starts becoming an issue. Our neurotic monkey mind, which can be an extremely useful tool, becomes problematic when we’re engulfed by it.
“The circumstances you are experiencing are not the cause of your suffering. The cause of your suffering is the thought that what is happening should not be happening or is not supposed to be happening.” – Teal Swan
That message is profound. And it does not mean that you should become passive and do nothing with your life. Not at all. To put it another way, pain is inevitable but suffering is optional. Just be. Totally accept the present moment and fully immerse yourself in whatever you’re doing; that’s when so-called problems fade away and life becomes magical.
How to steep yourself in the sweet nectar of the present moment:
1. Recognize when you’re obsessing over the past or future.
Are you caught in endless loops of thought? Are you playing out arguments in your head? Are you defending yourself in your head? Is your ego trying to justify itself? Are you thinking about how you’re better (or worse) than someone? Are you worrying about something that might happen in the future? Are you marinating on something in the past that you can’t change?
2. Ask yourself “What am I doing RIGHT NOW?”
What are you doing right now, at this very moment? Not five minutes from now, not next week. What are you doing NOW? Whenever you do this, you find that it’s all good and that the problems you’re creating in your head are based on projections into the past or future.
The exception to this is something like getting chased by a bear. But in any life-threatening situation, you don’t have “time” (see what I did there?) to worry or feel bad for yourself. You’re just absorbed in the moment and existing in pure, adrenaline-fueled action. Danger can be very real but fear is a mental construct.
3. Firmly tell yourself to “Be here now.” (Or any other affirmation that helps to bring you back to the present moment.)
A mantra that keeps me present and worry-free is “All I have is my breath.” I breathe deeply and repeat those words to myself. This mantra grounds me into the moment and makes me truly understand that anything can be taken away from me at any time. It puts me at peace with the perpetual, enigmatic flux of the Universe.
To drive the point hOMe, here are some quotes from The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle:
“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.”
“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of nonforgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”
“As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease. When you act out the present-moment awareness, whatever you do becomes imbued with a sense of quality, care, and love – even the most simple action.”
“Time isn’t precious at all, because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the Now. That is precious indeed. The more you are focused on time—past and future—the more you miss the Now, the most precious thing there is.”
Embrace the present, it’s a gift.
– Stevie P