Ok, so you have probably heard this many times: “you need to live in the moment” or “try to enjoy what is happening right now rather than moving ahead to the future.”
In yoga classes we are often challenged to “keep our minds on the mat and in the space through focus on the breath,” rather than thinking about what happened before the class or what may be occurring after class.
Being ‘present’ is often very challenging for many of us because life encourages forward thinking. We are planners and organizers in so many aspects of our lives. As parents we are faced with ensuring our kids get to school and activities; endless meal and snack preparations; play dates, birthday parties…….it is literally an endless array of plans and logistics. People who work outside of the home are challenged with meetings, work load and coordinating a multitude of tasks that require an extreme amount of organization as well. Multi tasking has become not only important but almost essential in functioning in our worlds. The problem with multi tasking is that it makes “Living in the Moment” very challenging. If we were to completely emerge ourselves in one moment at a time, it would seem that our productivity levels would plummet to all time lows. I cannot possibly just sit and eat this orange because that would be a waste of time! I must eat this orange while paying the bills while preparing a meal…. and poof…. just like that I am no longer living in the moment. It happens so quickly that we almost become oblivious to it.
When we come to practice yoga and step onto our mats, this may very likely be the only time where we can truly find that moment of stillness; of being in that one moment. The stage is set for us, and the practice allows us to be exactly where we are. However, wouldn’t it be a wonderful discovery to give ourselves this gift more often? What if we even went one step further and were able to find this gift of living in the moment most of the time??
It may begin with a simple exercise of noticing our patterns. Pick a day, or even a week where you experiment with this idea. Try to be in every moment during that period of time fully and completely. When you are eating a meal do just that: enjoy the meal and do that and that alone. Avoid the urge to interrupt this moment with any other activities including using the phone, planning your next happening, or wandering off to the next ‘thing.’ Do the same with each of your daily plans – emerge yourself completely in each individual thing before moving to the next. Will you be less productive? Perhaps you will be more productive because you will create ease in the mind, as opposed to being anxious about getting to the next thing.
Don’t get me wrong, anxiety is a very real thing for many people. The flames of anxiety are fanned by constantly looking ahead and planning. People who suffer from anxiety would be greatly helped from working on being in the moment because it is this looking ahead that exacerbates the anxious mind.
If we look at the root of over planning, over multitasking, and over forward thinking, many of these behaviours come about from one simple word: fear. We fear not getting everything done; we fear not being successful, we fear missing deadlines, etc, etc, etc! This is where we get into that negative cycle that looks something like this:
FEAR ….leads to….mind in constant overdrive/not living in the Moment…..leads to…ANXIETY… and the cycle continues.
If we can try and remind ourselves that everything will be ok, this may be the impetus for being more present in each and every moment in our lives. With this presence we may uncover ease and calm and perhaps even greater productivity then we thought possible. Slowing down may essentially speed up our ability to get things done. So the next time you are doing something and you find your mind wandering off to the next thing, take a moment and consider what you actually may be missing in that moment.