Monday, March 12, 2012

Living in the Present Moment

Mindfulness and living in the present moment is something I am learning more about and trying to work towards. There's an opportunity cost to being caught up in the past or lost in the future. Many people postpone their happiness with thoughts such as "I will be happy once abc occurrs or xyz happens." But once those things happen (and those moments could never come!) there's another abc or xyz to postpone your happiness for. Happiness begins now and today by accepting and appreciating the beauty, simplicity, and perfect imperfections of the now.

On Saturday, I took a Living in the Present Moment course with Denis Dorris at Leisure Learning Unlimited on Richmond. It was an empowering course that changed my perspective on how I thought. Here are some key takeways:

1. Failure vs. Feedback
We did an exercise where we were to draw our neighbor in 30 seconds. Denis pointed out thoughts of feeling embarrassed about our picture. Our drawing skills are what it is, its neither good or bad, and once shouldn't place their self-worth on what people might think about your present drawing skills. If something is that important to you than take a drawing class. If not, let it go and accept that this is the best drawing you can do at the present time. Feedback is merely data on the gap between where you want to be and where you are now. Failure is an emotional attachment that we generate ourselves from the gap. You create your own sense of failure.

2. Emotions as a river flow
Often we are taught to ignore or get over negative emotions. Denis argues that emotions are neither good nor bad, they just are. There are ones we like and dislike. He said to view emotions and thoughts are a river flow. We can choose to immerse ourselves in our emotions and become entangled or we can choose to stand on the shore and pick and choose the emotions we want to fully experience. Instead of ignoring or stifling the ones we don't want, we just let it pass through us like a river. We acknowledge their existence but let them flow through without attaching much significance.

3. Breathing exercises
I realize how out of the present I am when I'm eating a meal and I can't remember what I ate or what my food even tasted like because my mind is somewhere else. We did exercises where we centered our breathing and focused on the now, the physical and emotional sensations. I sat there and felt every tingle in my body and each crisp, cool inhale of fresh air into my lungs. It helps in feeling relaxed and making life's problems not seem so urgent.

These are definitely simple concepts but very hard, at least for me, to practice in everyday life. I find myself dozing into the past and the future constantly. I'm a passive participatory and many of my life events. People who enjoy each moment get so much more out of life. I want that.

1 comment:

Eunice said...

Your breathing exercise takeaway reminded me of something I read in a magazine the other day that I want to start doing. Meditating and focusing on your breath 5-15 minutes each day is seen to keep you more relaxed and happy overall.