Great Tools And Ideas To Stay In The Present Moment
As I have been learning the last few years, staying in the present is no easy task. Remember the old saying, “If it were easy, everybody would do it”? Look around you. How many people are achieving it? How many people are awake enough to even be working on it? For those of us that are, I have the pleasure of sharing a few tips I’ve found to help us along.
I learned a while back about the separation of ego and the mind’s “software programming” and the brain and body (the hardware) and the spiritual energy that is “us” and “we” that is kind of the one experiencing the other two. Inside the body, I think we forget the “I” at the wheel is in control, but we kind of activate the software’s autopilot program through example from others. The problem is these autopilot programs are self-imploding. They get caught in information loops and halt progress. This autopilot program is where all our thoughts come from, and sorry to tell you this, these thoughts are completely fabricated. They are make-believe, as much fantasy as the fairy tale my daughter invents when she plays princess dress-up. But, if you believe you are your ego, you believe the thoughts generated by your ego. It’s human nature. It’s a natural mimicking behavior learned by our elders and peers. We have thoughts about the past, which are just stored thoughts and biased observations that are actually reassembled and altered each and every time they are recalled, making them more and more fabricated. (This is a great tool used in regression hypnosis healing). We also have thoughts about the future which are generated by past experiences and hypotheses literally fabricated by the imagination, and we are conditioned to make them self-preserving, which means they are almost always going to be fearful and negative.
The up side of all this is because it is a learned behavior, it can be unlearned. Proper information and behavior modification can help keep you in the present moment. Being in the present severely limits your ego’s ability to generate fabricated thoughts that sabotage your journey. Being in the present allows you to experience the little joys and pleasures life has to offer without attaching distracting thoughts to them.
So, let discuss (and I do hope you will take these with you and dwell on them and share them) some great ideas I’ve come across over the years to keep you focused on the present.
My biggest challenge has always been generating thoughts, worries and stresses about the future, a future that never happens the way I predict it will. I have had many acquaintances that tell the same traumatic stories from their past over and over again or talk about a time when things were better, as though they are trapped there and can’t move forward. My first suggestion is to learn the hard and fast rule, “THOUGHTS ARE NOT REALITY.” The what-if’s in life are never what-is.
Another way I sabotage myself is anticipation anxiety. Every human every day has good things happen and bad things happen, and I’m one of those people that braces to receive the blow from the bad things. Again this is a learned behavior and can be unlearned. The healthy alternative to this is to anticipate and appreciate the good things that can and will happen. We take these for granted. Yes, I got caught in a traffic jam this morning, but I also got an amazing hug from my child when I left the house. Yes, I got a bad call from my boss, but I ate an amazing and healthy meal for dinner. If you anticipate the positives and do your best to blow off the negatives, an amazing transformation begins. You are in control of your inner space and you are in control of your thoughts and experiences, not the other way around.
Identify your tendencies. When someone is being treated for PTSD (post-traumatic stress disorder), one of the first things they do is identify the objects, situations, and thoughts that trigger an emotional attack. Like I mentioned before, my tendencies are to worry about the future and anticipate negative situations which causes unnecessary anxiety and stress. These thoughts are signals that I need to learn to ignore thoughts generated about the future.
You can’t fight the system. Your ego is your ego and memories of your life experience are what you believe them to be. It’s how we are designed and getting mad or angry or depressed or self-absorbed about it isn’t going to change it. Be like water in a river and go with the flow. Don’t generate more resistance. Become NO resistance. Thoughts will be thought and ideas will be ideas and they come in and out of our lives thousands of times a day. Let them. Just because a thought is created doesn’t mean you have to acknowledge it. If you read a bedtime story to your child, do you believe it to be true and spend time thinking and worrying about it? Your thoughts are like fairy tales and should be treated as such. They can be as entertaining, too, if you learn to laugh at yourself. Let them come, give them a moment, then let them go.
When you find yourself drifting off into the past or the future, stop everything and concentrate on your breath. Don’t alter it, just observe it. It brings you into the present immediately and it’s up to you to hold it there as long as possible. I also love the idea of reminders. I have a little bracelet my daughter gave to me that I use as a tool to keep me in the present. Every time I look at it or feel it on my wrist, I take a breath, bring my attention to where my thoughts are, flush them away, and enjoy the moment I am in. You can tie a piece of string on your wrist, perform this act every time you see a green car while driving, anything you can think of.
The most important part of any training program is conditioning, and there’s no greater way to condition yourself to stay present in the moment than meditation. A regular meditation practice can help you explore the limitless space within the emptiness of the moment. When you clear out all the clutter brought in from your thoughts, there’s a lot of vacant space to use. It’s kind of like clearing out the office furniture to expose the ballroom floor and make way for the dancing. A goofy analogy, I agree, but you get the point.
My last suggestion would be to follow your bliss. If you are working hard on something you truly love to do, like I feel about my writing, you maintain focus on the present moment and learn to enjoy every moment for what it is.
Practice, practice, practice! It isn’t easy, but it is easy to get discouraged or make yourself feel bad for not doing as well as you would like. Give yourself a break. Remind yourself that you are working hard toward something very few around you are even aware of. Release all judgments, including those you hold of yourself. Conditioning yourself to stay in the present is akin to exercising the body. It takes a lot of discipline, self-motivation, and the right tools, all of which can be altered to your uniqueness and needs.