Monday, January 05, 2009

The Art of Now

Came across a great article recently in Psychology Today:

"The Art of Now: Six Steps to Living in the Moment

Here's the blurb: "We live in the age of distraction. Yet one of life's sharpest paradoxes is that your brightest future hinges on your ability to pay attention to the present."

Okay, that blurb sucks.

Here it is again, translated without the superfluous psycho-babbly-ness: People who experience the greatest fulfillment in life are those who have learned to live in the moment.

I see this statement proven true over and over again in my coaching, and in my own life experience. To be fully present to your life--to all that's happening in and around you in this moment right here, right now--is in one sense the very definition of what it means to be fully alive. I mean, think about it: When your mind is off worrying or dreaming about the future while your body is here in this moment, your presence is divided. You're not fully here and you're not fully in the future either, so you end up experiencing both in a diminished way. You're not fully alive in this moment right now, which (we keep forgetting) is actually the only moment you have.

Of course, knowing this and living it out are vastly different things. For example, right now I'm sick. It's day 5 of being sick. It's just a cold or mild flu, I don't know. But when I woke up this morning, I was instantly ticked off. I'm sick of being sick. I'm ready for it to be done. My mind is definitely off in the future, at a time when this illness will be past and I can get on with my regular schedule. I don't want to be sick, so one way I try to deal with that is to emotionally resist the fact that I still am. I get mad, and try to distance myself from my illness through my anger.

And I'm delighted to report that it's all worked swimmingly. My stubborn denial of what is has prevailed and my illness has fled the premises like the weaselly offspring of hell that it is.

Oh wait. No. I just made that last part up.

We think resisting a present circumstance we don't want (by escaping to the future or the past) will make it go away faster. But the paradox is that the opposite tactic is actually more effective, and more fulfilling. As I stop resisting what is (i.e. my being sick today) and simply practice being fully present to my life as it is right here, right now (accepting both the good and the bad without judgement), I not only experience a greater measure of peace in the moment, but I also find the grace I need to engage my life with my whole heart and mine from it the hidden treasures I would not have seen otherwise.

Like I said, it's not easy. But today I'm going to give it a shot.

Read the article. I think you'll enjoy it.

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