My days spent walking A Million Steps on the Camino de Santiago were completely unscripted. At the beginning of each day I had no idea how far I would walk, what I would eat, where I would spent the night, and no guarantee that my body would cooperate by getting me there. In that environment, there was little time to think about the past or worry about the future. 35 days in this wonderful state of being allowed the concept of now to take root in my soul.
How much of your life is spent everywhere but here? Is your body in a meeting while your mind is on the next one? Do you drive and chat on the cell? Do you wish you hadn’t sold that stock or worry about your next performance evaluation? Take a little personal inventory and try to evaluate how much time you spend in the present moment. That means being completely focused on the here and now.
Being present means that the time is always now. The past and future thrive in an imaginary land that is created by the mind. Like a vacuum or magnet, we are constantly pulled towards something that does not really exist. The past is gone and cannot be changed. The only time that anything can be changed is now. Worrying about the future is living somewhere that does not exist. Have you ever been suffocated by regret from the past and then attempt to find salvation in the future? Who in this world will not be skinnier, happier, and wealthier tomorrow? Once again, the gravitational pull takes you everywhere except now. While impossible to be 100% present, balance is the key to life.
A simple exercise to experience the now is to clear your mind of all thoughts and then wait for the next one to come. That blank slate feeling is the key to being present. Another nice practice it to stop talking to yourself. Try to witness your thoughts without questions or judgement. Happiness does not happen yesterday or tomorrow, it happens now. If you are not even on the field there is no way to achieve the universal goal of being happy.
Another key ingredient in this recipe is to accept that you are not your mind or your thoughts. Try to imagine being Superman and send me an email when you master flight. This works on the darker side of thought where you see yourself as a monster. You are you…not your mind. This is one place where divorce is divine.
Many people feel that their superior minds allow then to multitask. Try to drive and text. Is there a better example of how not to be present? Taking a child to the park, sending them off with a ball, and then checking the phone is not time spent with your child. In this instance, the only one being fooled is you.
Being present will enhance your relationships, make food taste better, and reduce stress. Close your eyes and imagine a problem that you are experiencing right now. In the moment, we rarely have a problem. If you want to increase worry then just camp in the future and past.
Set aside the next five minutes and give it a try. Not yesterday, not tomorrow, NOW!
I pride myself of writing this post every Tuesday. I will be leaving the country for a month beginning next Monday and will have limited or no access to electronics. I will try to write next week’s piece on the plane, but prepare for a drought. I will be back in earnest by November. Goodbye Boise…..Hello Himalayas.