Hello SOTGC community,
Have you ever driven your car, and at some point “woken up” to realize that you don’t remember the last 5 minutes on the road, often wondering in amazement how you stayed in your lane? Yup, sounds familiar doesn’t it?
This is just one example of the ways that we exist on autopilot in our day-to-day lives. We often operate in this robotic state because we spend most of our waking hours in thought.
Here’s the thing – if we examined our thoughts more closely, we’d realize that most of our thoughts are rooted in the past or future tense. This realization is an important one to have, and here’s why:
Most of what causes us stress, anxiety, or depression, is often linked to things that have occurred in the past, or things that we are anticipating in the future.
It is very helpful to understand and recognize that we have no ultimate control over either. And more importantly, it is difficult to feel joy, vitality, and a deep sense of connection if our minds are doing this kind of time travel.
If we spend most of our time in the past or the future, we are not gifting ourselves with all of the wonder that is happening right in front of our noses; essentially, we are letting life pass us by.
I have found this to be an especially good reminder as I go through my pregnancy. It’s hard for me not to be thinking ahead to all of the things on my to-do list (and to-buy list), where our family will eventually settle (we are serial international renters), what school districts are the best ones, what the first few weeks of motherhood will be like, how I will manage my business in the months to come…right about now, my head is spinning, and let’s just say that I don’t exactly feel filled with glee.
One of the best ways to enjoy the human experience, achieve balance, and to feel fully alive, is to practice present moment awareness, or mindfulness.
The present really is a gift; in fact, it is all that we have.
If you are looking for balance, you are not going to find it yesterday, and tomorrow is too far away. The good news is that we all have the ability to find it in the here and now.
If you catch yourself reliving the past (and we usually do this when the past event was less than ideal) or worrying about something in the future (which may or may not happen anyway), try this:
Take three, slow, deep breaths through your nose. Then take a moment to look around and pay attention to the environment you are in, examining all of the little details, as though you are the most curious observer.
This is a very simple practice that only takes moments. The result is what can be called a “pattern-interrupt”. You will have successfully brought yourself (and your thoughts) to the present moment. This is where your life is actually happening. This is where you will find your center, and this is where you will remember what it feels like to be alive.