The advice used to be ‘take one day at a time’, but these days you are more likely to hear about ‘living in the now’ or the ‘ Power of Now’, after the bestselling Eckhart Tolle book of the same name. In looking more closely at why the concept of present moment living is a model to follow, lets first consider some obvious facts :
1. Staying stuck in the past, reminiscing about the ‘good old days’ or wishing that things had turned out differently, will not change anything.
2. Wishing for some future outcome will not get you there, without action in the present.
3. Joy and well being can only be experienced in the present. Negative emotions and stress all have their origins in past memories, which fuel fears for the future.
4. The only time we can experience or do anything is in the present. This is our point of power, the only place from which we can create forward momentum to improve our situation or achieve our goals.
If you are not present moment focused you will miss out on what the world has to offer. Life is short and meant to be lived to the full, and you can only do this if you are firmly rooted in the Now. So don’t waste precious present moments contemplating what dire consequences might befall you. Of course, this would also increase the chances of attracting the very outcomes you fear.
Being present is not in the first instance about ‘doing’, it is more about being grounded in the reality of ‘what is’ as the starting point for moving forward.
So what does present moment focus look like in practise ?
– You give your attention to what is happening in the here and now, including an awareness of your own thoughts and feelings and how they are driving your behaviour.
– You have full acceptance of ‘what is’ without judgement or denial. No matter how unwelcome a new event might be, denying it does not make it go away!. If acceptance is difficult for you, it is ok to accept your non acceptance. Acceptance is acknowledging the reality of the situation and is an essential part of present moment living.
– You will be aware of your Ego, which will rebel against anything that threatens to expose it for the fraud that it is. Ego is the false self, the sense of separateness which relies on creating an image of specialness, of being better than others (rather than unique) for its identity. All our fears for the future and tendencies to judge and compare can be attributed to ego identity.
– You will feel a sense of empowerment even if your scope to act is limited. You can, for example, make a positive decision not to act. You will do what you can do today and let tomorrow take care of itself.
One of the ‘gifts’ of a crisis (should you choose to accept it !) is that it pushes you to stay present moment focused, as a survival mechanism. You may be overwhelmed if you give in to the temptation of contemplating challenges ahead, to which there are no obvious solutions.
We all live in the present to a certain extent or we couldn’t function, but the chances are that we could do better. You can be in the now in an instant, but it requires ongoing awareness and discipline to stay there, as you will tend to drift into the past or the future. Your reward will be a greater sense of peace, empowerment and well being.