What Does it REALLY Mean to Live in the Moment?

Have you ever caught yourself daydreaming about the good times you’ve had in the past or the events you have planned for the future?

istock_000005597204xsmall.jpgMany of us live most of our lives in the past or future, missing out entirely on the present moment. Remembering how good you felt or what fun you had in some past experience often eases the aches of current disappointments. Projecting into the future how you would like your life to be or onto some upcoming plans, offers hope and reassurance if your present is not meeting your satisfaction.

However, if you’ve ever studied the mind and the aspects of time, you would know that the present moment is all that is real, all that actually exists. The past and future only exist in the mind, while the present exists in real time. It’s true the mind is very powerful and can play tricks on us. It can pull up a memory that seems so vivid, you actually experience it through your senses and can even feel an emotional response. Similarly, you may get all excited thinking about the vacation you will be taking next summer, and almost smell the suntan lotion.

Yet, living anywhere but the present can be a form of escape or denial. It’s sticking your head in the sand instead of facing the truth–your life today sucks and you better do something about it if you want it to get better.

What are some ways you can stop time traveling and learn to enjoy living in the moment?

1. Breathe. The breath is one of the strongest anchors to the present. Do you realize that most people rarely take complete breaths? Most of us are shallow, unconscious breathers. If you’ve ever taken a yoga class, you’ve experienced the complete breath. It begins in the belly, moves up through the solar plexus, then fills the lungs. Then you hold it a few seconds, and release in reverse. You can breathe through your mouth or nose–either way, start practicing conscious breathing. Use this tool whenever you find your mind wandering.

2. Face it. Whatever is taking you on time journeys, the best course is to deal with it. You can only escape your problems for so long. If you’re having financial difficulties and you ignore them, you’ll find they may get even worse. If you’re experiencing health issues, running to the comfort of another time, won’t heal your ills. If you’re stuck on what to do, get help. Call friends, family, or a coach. There are a lot of people who can see what you can’t see for yourself and offer helpful support.

3. Meditate. You may not consider yourself a spiritual person or you may consider meditation only for the Indian gurus, but it has become very mainstream since the Beatles put their teacher on the map. Meditation is a combination of breathing and focusing your mind, and is not reserved for the exclusive domain of the spiritual seeker or practitioner. It’s one of the best ways to calm an agitated mind, one that is scattered all over time and a myriad of thoughts. Meditation can only be done in the moment, so it is a perfect grounding tool.

4. Exercise. When you walk or run on the beach, swim or play a sport, you are totally focused in the present moment. Almost any physical activity will bring you back from your time excursions to the present where you need to concentrate on the ball coming at you across the net, or the road in front of you. Your senses are alert, your heart is beating strong, and your endorphins are creating feelings of well being. You are truly living in the moment.

Use some of these tools when you find yourself out of the moment, or come up with your own ideas. Life passes by us way too fast to miss the joy and richness of each moment. Make sure you start treating each moment as the precious gift of life that it is.

Thanks to Improved Life for including this post in the Carnival of Improving Life, to Positive and Successful Lifestyle Tips for featuring this post in the Carnival of Inspiration and Motivation, and to Debra Moorhead for publishing this post in the Carnival of Healing.

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