Can you relate to the feeling of just wanting to run away? The responsibilities feel too vast, the discomfort too great, and the anxiety too strong. Thoughts like, “If I could be somewhere else, have a different job, or a different roommate, things would be perfect.” Or how about, “When I have the relationship, the money, the privilege, the prestige, then I will be happy.” How easily we are distracted from the present moment with future tripping and the when-I-haves, but the answer is not in the future - it’s now.
In The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle says, “All you really need to do is accept this moment fully. You are then at ease in the here and now and at ease with yourself.”
Isn’t this what we really want: to be at ease now with ourselves as we are?! Not tomorrow. Not when we have all the fixings of life but right now.
This peace is accessible if we choose it.
Let’s look at how two different life scenarios can look very much the same on the surface but be absolutely different as far as motives, presence, and emotional turmoil.
Scenario 1: You get out of bed each day with intense anxiety for the day ahead. Your head is spinning, because you have a to-do list longer than you can handle. You’ve packed your schedule, because you need to achieve and earn the promotion you’re up for at work. Your inner self talk includes things “work harder, do better, be faster than the competition.” This provides ample motivation, but also fries your nerves. You are doing all the things you need to do, you are working hard, and you are making moves, but you are completely drained. You get that promotion, you’ve added to your outward success, but why doesn't it feel fulfilling? You're disappointed, but now it’s on to the next achievement.
Scenario 2: Your morning is peaceful. You have a routine that includes setting an intention of showing up for life and navigating the ups and downs with grace. You embrace what you have to do for that day, and you show up and work hard. Even if your work isn’t always exciting, you put in the effort and show up in the workplace as a loving and tolerant human being. Yes, you’re up for that work promotion and you want it, but you hold onto it loosely. Your motive in life is to be of service, and you have faith that all will work out as it should. Instead of being distracted by worry, competition, and achievement, you are present, of service, and peaceful. You get the promotion, and you look forward to continue being of service to the world through your work.
Here are two different scenarios, but the same external outcome. In each situation you got the promotion. But does the end justify the means? I don’t think so. What was the difference between your two selves? A difference in motive and presence and subsequently, peace.
We have choices. We can either live in the moment as it is, be motivated by the stirrings of our souls, and have peaceful experiences, or we can be running around crazy, trying to force and control life, and feel like shit.
When we are present we achieve and live from a place of calm and inherent self-worth rather than a constant attempt to prove how deserving we are. When you are present, you realize you are already deserving, and you already have everything you need.
Living in the moment is so much more preferable, because there is nothing to prove. You just need to show up to life, to be, and take the next right action. If this present moment is good enough, then we don’t need to run anywhere. We don’t need a solution in the future, because living in the moment itself is the solution.
This doesn’t mean we don’t prepare for the future. I prepare for my future life and I take care of my future self, but I don’t live in the future. My happiness is not predicated on tomorrow working out as I wish. My peace lives in the now. This can be your perspective too.
Let’s talk about practices that can help you live presently.
Ways to get into the present:
Gratitude: Writing a gratitude list is the easiest way to remember that this moment is perfect as it is. It helps you to want what you actually have rather than reaching for the next thing and the next thing to fill you up.
Breathe: Taking five deep breaths naturally calms the body, keeps it from being in fight or flight, and gets you back into the now.
Pay attention to your body: You can take a moment to actually feel living in your body. Pay attention to your senses. What do you feel, smell, touch, taste, and hear? Can you feel your heartbeat? How are your pinky toes doing? Which nostril are you breathing out of?
Exercise: Movement brings calm and clarity. Exercise is healthy for your body, but it’s also healthy for your brain. Seeing exercise as a spiritual practice that helps you be calmer and a more focused human is very helpful. For me, I know there is a layer of anxiety that disappears when I workout at least three times a week.
Meditation: There are so many ways to meditate, but the prescription for meditation is to be rather than do. Meditation isn’t about doing anything; it’s about sitting with yourself, observing your thoughts, paying attention to your body, and existing for whatever amount of time. Meditation has taught me presence in the deepest way. I recommend the free app, Insight Timer for free guided meditations and a timer with ambient sounds. Just start doing it.
Focus on the task at hand: Work isn’t always fun. Doing the laundry, not my favorite. Yet, being present with those tasks can make them a spiritual, miraculous moment. When the judgment of it being hard or displeasing falls away you can just observe and do and welcome a spirit of calm.
Use a Mantra: “This moment is as perfect as it’s ever going to be.” I got this phrase from Richard Rohr, and I use it often when I keep trying to run away from the present. “I choose peace” or “I’m here, now” are also helpful.
Use one, two, or all of these tools to practice daily presence. I know that the more I love the place I am the more I feel free to grow, explore, and change. The more we show up for, want, and love what we already have the more we will have what we want. Always remember, this is about progress, not perfection, and you can always come back to the now even when you are human and forget. Try it out, see what works for you.
Share about your breakthroughs or struggles below. I will respond and offer more guidance.