Harnessing the power of the moment
Life is lived in the present moment. Yet this moment, with its power to transform, needs our attention if it is to be appreciated and lived to its potential. We occupy present time even when past events seem to have taken over; when we might wonder if we’re ‘living in the past’. The other place that takes up space in our minds is the future. Nowadays, we are overwhelmed with messages about the importance of time and we chase it at a high price: at the cost of the present minute.
The world holds many distractions and much of the time other things pull us away from whatever we are doing. We are asked to sort out or pay attention to someone or something other than that which held our attention just a moment ago. Multi-tasking can sound appealing because of its link to competence and the ability to save time, somehow making more time. Both at work and at leisure there are demands from people, from companies, from a media culture that commands, ‘don’t miss out’, ‘don’t get left behind’, ‘always be on-trend’. The need to have, or at least be aware of the next labour-saving device seems a constant.
Saving time, making the most of time, buying gadgets to manage time - sold as ‘time-saving’ or ‘energy-saving’ – has proved a pursuit in itself. And in this clamour, we miss the true meaning of life: the vitality of the moment we are in.
Many of us are running around like headless chickens, missing the point and - if this is life - what are we saving time for?
“It is not uncommon for people to spend their whole life waiting to start living.” – Eckhart Tolle.
Living in the present moment
The present moment is so valuable. Whether it’s observing the beauty and mystery of a sunrise; feeling fresh morning dew, cool and wet underfoot; watching a child lost in eating ice-cream as it melts; in the joy of playing hide and seek, or hearing a friend’s voice. This minute commands our attention if we let it in. Our senses are meant for the moment; they are aware of it even when we are busy with other things, and they crave time to delight in or be sad, angry or fearful of what the moment holds (because moments hold all experiences).
The benefits of living in the present include the ability to deal with stress, ability to relax, better sleep, less conflict, greater tolerance and acceptance.
Simple pleasures are helpful in keeping us in the moment, when we allow them to. Here are a few mindfulness ideas for actively being present:
How to actively be in the present
- looking at a tree – seeing the patterns in the bark, the shape of its branches
- watching white frothing shapes in a stream
- hearing the sound of rustling leaves
- inhaling the smell of mown grass
- taking a warm fragranced bath or shower
- drawing, painting, sculpting, colouring-in
- dancing to favourite music
- spending an hour or more with someone you love or respect
- breathing in and out deeply and rhythmically
When you are at work, whatever your job, take a moment to look around you. Is the room quiet and restful or frenetic with energy? Look at the textures around you. How do they feel? What do they remind you of? What is this moment about? You can be mindfully in the given moment wherever you are.
It is so easy to be future-focused – on later today, tomorrow afternoon, next week - that we miss being present in our own life. It’s when we are busy pursuing the perfect photograph of the sunset that we miss the actual moment when the orange ball sinks quietly and marvellously behind the headland.
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