I’ve been reading The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle and, whilst I had an understanding of mindfulness, I feel like this book has given me another layer to that understanding and allowed me to practice it in everyday life. It has also allowed me to understand my own thought processes, how they can sometimes be more hindrance than help, and how to overcome these deeply engrained ways of being. I would definitely recommend reading this – particularly if you’re prone to negative thinking or feeling stressed with juggling so much in life.
That being said, if you are anything like me, you might find yourself easily overwhelmed with the amount of tasks to accomplish in any given day. However, I feel within the last few months I have recognised and adapted to my way of thinking, overcoming the thought patterns I had grown so used to, and learning to be a little less consumed by life.
For example, it’s not unusual for me to wake early, go for a morning run, head off for a full day of work, and then have plans later than evening. Of course, on top of all that, there’s the mini-tasks that need to be completed within a certain timeframe; make breakfast, get to work on time, prepare food, etc. It’s not uncommon for me to wake up and instantly feel anticipation like a horse at the gate. This leads to a sense of unease that, if I’m being completely honest, will stay with me for the remainder of the day until I climb back into bed that night. In addition, I rarely allow my mind to come to a full halt as social media and other smartphone apps keep my brain ticking over. Can you relate?
Sometimes we can reduce our days to ‘just getting things over and done with’ which doesn’t make for a happy life, does it? Since reading and practicing The Power of Now, bringing my mind and focus back to the present moment has been a huge benefit for me. Here’s three things I’ve learnt in simply embracing the present moment…
Our minds are very good at dividing themselves. Rarely are we fully absorbed in the present moment as our mental energy wanders elsewhere in trying to escape where we physically are. It makes no sense to do this, if you think about it! We might be having a conversation with someone in the physical but, mentally, we’re keeping an eye on the clock and considering what else we need to do with our day.
In bringing yourself into the present and focussing on where you are right now, you gather all that energy into one central spot; as a result, you have so much more to give in that specific moment, and every moment to come. Give no thought to what’s next, or what happened before. Just focus entirely on what you are doing now. Since doing this, I feel so much calmer. Those busy days become more manageable because I’m not overwhelmed when I wake up by thinking “Oh, wow! I have so much to get through today!” It’s simply one moment I need to focus on…Getting out of bed, making a delicious breakfast, etc. Try it for yourself and see!
Following on from this, having more focus in the present moment allows you to be fully immersed in life itself and become more aware. When you think about it, life is but a series of moments and so many of them we take entirely for granted by not being fully present. If we are able to bring all of our energy into the present, then we’ll find we are able to become better listeners for the other person in the conversation because our minds are not wandering. We will enjoy and be able to taste every bite of food as we take it. We will have the ability to appreciate the beauty of the day as we witness it by noticing all the little things that usually pass us by. Fulfilment arises because we’re not constantly putting pressure on ourselves to simply ‘get through’ the day and we have experienced everything with a welcome attitude. Even the most difficult challenges can be fulfilling if we stop fighting against it, stay present, and allow things to be. Cross the bridge as it comes…
Naturally, a sense of liberty comes with this practice and, along with it, contentment. With simply a moment to focus on, time becomes less of a concern. What will happen, will happen, and it’ll happen in it’s own time. Without the pressure of continuous “Quick! Do this! Get this done! Don’t forget this!” which happens when we lose focus and our minds are scattering thoughts everywhere, it leaves space for happiness to arise. With contentment rising, things become far less stressful.
For example, if I’m stuck in traffic on the way to work, my first thought is “Oh no, I’m going to be late! Come on, hurry up. For fucks sake – I have so much to do today and this isn’t helping…” and my mind is scattering negative thoughts of the possible ramifications of this traffic. Some of these are probably never going to come true and are all based on fear. However, through doing this, I’m not in the car anymore – I’m in the office, trying to get through my work and failing.
In reality, what I need to do is just accept it. I’m stuck in traffic and I can’t control that. So, I might as well just enjoy the moment as best I can. Listen to some music, sing along loudly (and terribly), smoke a cigarette, and just enjoy being in my car on a sunny day. Then, when I get to the office, I can devote all my energy to the tasks at hand. Worrying about them in the car won’t get them done quicker so why stress myself out now? By accepting the situation for what it is, you’ll be shocked at how quickly your body relaxes and your mind shuts the hell up.
Not everything is in your control and there is a great sense of freedom in that truth.
Let it be and enjoy being here now.