One of my all time favorite quotes from the Brierely Camino Guidebook is as follows: “Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, and today a gift-that is why it is called the present.
The Holiday Season is notorious for stirring up all kinds of emotions rooted in the past and projected into the future. It is natural and easy to take a less than pleasant event from a prior Christmas and watch the movie over and over. Spoiler alert….the ending does not change. It is equally enticing to take a spectacular memory and use it as basis for a future expectation. This is a form of clinging to the past and usually sets the stage for disappointment. Instead of dwelling on a previous moment or worrying about what may or may not happen this Friday, why not take time to enjoy this moment and let the next one unfold naturally.
My days spent walking 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.
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.
Give yourself the greatest Christmas gift of all time by being present.