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.

6 Comments on “What Does it REALLY Mean

to Live in the Moment?

  • These are probably some of the best tips I know to help keep you anchored in the present moment. Some people write whole books on the subject and end up saying no more than this. The present moment is always good once it is seen that no other future moment can ever be more fulfilling than the present. A coach is most helpful in offering a listening ear, time, objective opinion and/or support (something which family and friends are not always able to do) either because they don’t have the appropriate skills, time, or have their own agendas (usually with the best of intentions) but which may not be right for you. Animals are very good at teaching the present moment too, like watching a dog priming itself to catch the stick or ball thrown by it’s master or a cat or bird ready to pounce on it’s prey totally focussed with all of it’s being.

  • I think I’m just recently learning to live in the moment. It’ the only thing that brings real satisfaction. But I think you can only really live happily in the moment by deciding exactly what is important to you and spending your time doing exactly that. That gives you permission to live in the moment and enjoy it fully with no guilt.

  • Susanna and Jennifer,

    I am constantly having to remember to live in the moment. It starts with me remembering that I have everything I need today – that I’m not lacking anything, and that I will complete my life each and every day I live it.

    David

  • Beautifully articulated.

  • Excellent piece. I find staying focused in the present keeps me from worrying about the future. I am more relaxed and feel more in control. Also, your comments on facing your problems hits the nail on the head. When you focus on the present, you handle your business.

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