Are you present in the moment?
Or are you doing one thing and thinking about something else? Or thinking about what you’ll do next? Or worrying about some future event that may or may not occur?
A fundamental teaching of the major religions – especially Eastern traditions such as Daoism and Buddhism – is to be present in the now. Fully live and experience life by being present with whatever you are doing.
This is wonderful advice if you are looking to improve your performance in any area of your life. Whether at work, developing a new skill, spending time with one of your kids or grandkids, or doing something simple like washing the dishes…being fully present and doing ONE THING AT A TIME is a secret to doing that thing better, AND enjoying it more.
And how many times have you worried or ruminated about someone, something, some event that might occur or that you might have to deal with. Only to find the event or terrible thing did not occur as you had feared. How many wasted minutes and hours have you lost doing this…have I lost doing this?
As Mark Twain famously said, “I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened. Worrying is like paying a debt you don’t owe. I have spent most of my life worrying about things that have never happened.”
Pets Are Great Teachers
I find the best teachers of the principle of being in the moment are our pets. Dogs and cats provide wonderful examples of being fully present, giving unconditional love to those around them, and being fully invested in whatever they are doing. Could be walking, could be playing, could be taking a nap. Doesn’t matter, they are 100% there! And they usually are having a jolly good time too!
We are blessed with two dogs and four cats. Here is our youngest – the baby of the family – Ciara (which means “Dark-Haired One” in the Celtic language):
Here is Miss Ciara on the move in our back yard. She’s practicing her scary face as she, through play, learns her hunting skills. (So far no kills!) She runs and climbs and plays with her sister cats – what experts call “The Zoomies” – for a half hour, hour at a time. Then…
Time for a nap with big sister Stella. And she is OUT for an hour or more.
It’s Even Biblical
Jesus taught the importance of being in the moment and fully present. In Matthew 6:34, Jesus tells us “Therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about its own things.”
Being fully present in the moment is a skill or capability you can develop. When we practice our Qigong, do some deep breathing, or engage in deep prayer or meditation, we focus internally and fully inhabit the present. When we find our thoughts drifting to “What’s next?” or “What should I have for lunch?” or “How the heck am I going to deal with X problem?”…we gently coax our thoughts back to our practice – our breathing, our intention, our movement.
Yes, you can be happy and content TODAY. You can be grateful in this moment. You can inhabit the present and invest your attention and energy in such a way that you feel relaxed, you feel the flow, even as you allow yourself to experience FREEDOM from anticipating and worrying about what’s ahead.