Being Present

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Being present means living in the moment. Being present means enjoying right now instead of replaying past events or role playing possible future scenarios. There is a time for each of these to take place, but when it’s time to be present, it’s good to be able to relax into the moment at hand. It’s a skill worth mastering.

Our ability to be present depends a lot on having good boundaries. Your boundaries should be intentional and unapologetic. Keeping good control and understanding of what you want and need helps you to stay “in the moment” and enjoy more. Having weak or undefined boundaries makes you more likely to be passive or let others define them for you. Taking responsibility for yourself avoids the opportunity for others to take control of us. At the same time, respecting other’s boundaries will demonstrate how you want to be treated.  This means often letting go of our attachment to outcomes and need to control each result. Inner peace comes from letting the outcomes naturally play out in each moment without judgement or attachment. Being present means paying attention to yourself and whether you are trying to alter the moment and outcome instead of just observing and accepting it.

When you add judgment, comparison, or competition to the present moment, you are no longer being present. If you can let go of what you think “should” be happening or what “might have been” then you can more easily let go and enjoy being present. There will be enough time to lick your past wounds later. Trust that you can handle this moment, you deserve to enjoy what’s happening now and you will be capable of juggling whatever is thrown your way next. “Attitude is the difference between an ordeal and an adventure” -author unknown 

Do you have a mind that constantly races in every direction? One way to bring yourself into the present is to learn how to quiet your mind and focus on what matters right now. Taking yourself out of the moment and becoming an observer when you begin to feel anxious or fearful may help you to gain insight into whether or not this moment really requires that response. Fully experience this moment until it’s time to move on to the next. Being an observer of yourself may help you learn more about what triggers those moments of fear and anxiety. Knowledge is power. Observe and breathe…

The moments are going to keep happening. Fighting against the moment does not make it go slower. Each moment comes when it is supposed to come. Take a big, deep breath in. Now let it out slowly. You either took the time and felt present enough to enjoy that breath, or you rushed through it to see what was next. Each breath happens, quick or slow is an illusion and a judgement that you put on those moments. Time never speeds up, time never slows down. Even if you fight against the present moment it will still happen and still move at the same speed. Change will happen, change keeps coming. No matter how hard you try, you can only breath in OR out… never both at the same time. Each breath comes when it is time. 

Staying present means realizing that you can only do one thing at a time. Whether it be work, pleasure, obligation or otherwise, multi-tasking with either your body or mind is just not possible. Being able to do several things in quick succession with great ease should not be confused with multi-tasking. Complete one thing, then move on to the next.

Let time move and change and flow while just being within the movement of each moment. The less expectation of the next moment, the more you can fully enjoy the present. Reflection has it’s time and the process of learning involves thinking beyond the moment at hand and there will be time for all that too. But, when you can live and breathe in the now….. just be.

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The Unlearning

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Life often feels like a series of repeating patterns that move us along on a conveyor belt. We keep duplicating these echoes until the act is so familiar that it becomes mindless. Our days may feel as though they are made up of a series of many menial, mindless, apathetic actions. The repetition is not the cause for my concern, it’s the mindlessness that worries me. We are proficient learners of things that we believe serve us, and we create intentional roadblocks in front of the things we fear. We settle into habit and become the hamster on the wheel either oblivious of the stagnation or frozen in fear of the unknown.  What if the unknown is better? What if the unknown is amazing…

Is this cycle of repetition ok with you? Are you doing what you love? Are you loving what you do? This includes the way you begin and end your day, the way you interact with people, and even the basic structure of your life. Have you taken a step back from this routine to consider whether it’s learned, reproduced behavior being repeated out of ingrained habit, or is it how you truly want to move through your day?  Could you unlearn this structure and pattern to create more happiness and peace?

Even more important is the perspective you hold on these repetitive actions.  Attitude can turn resentment into gratitude. Point of view can change your perception. Unlearning an automatic response can open possibilities of finding joy in something that has felt like a long time chore.

When I made my happy promise, I began to see the small stuff as integral instead of menial, mindless tasks. When I went from feeling heavy obligation to finding bits of joy throughout my day, I found far more than a happy thought, I found more peaceful moments. I began the process of my unlearning.

There are still plenty of ways that I contribute to my own struggle, my hope is to begin shining a light on those blocks I have put up for myself and begin to unlearn my methods that are not serving me. When I come up against something that causes me frustration or pain, it serves me better to stop and consider the real reason behind that root feeling. If I can extract that cause I may be able to examine, process and unlearn the behavior. I can learn to reprogram.

Unlearning is not just about reconsidering and changing, it’s about completely abandoning a behavior. I need to stop planning what I want to learn and leave space to just be open to what comes my way.  I have to be willing to be empty in order to fill myself up with goodness. I realize now that ‘letting go’ is not enough, I have to completely unlearn what I know. I often focus on my ability to let go and get to a calm place, but finding happiness is about releasing the instigating act before it takes hold of me. I want to be able to unclench before a thought or feeling infiltrates my peaceful space. Mindfully examining what part of me responds negatively helps me detach from those feelings.  I believe unlearning is the true method that leads to a peaceful mind.

A peaceful mind creates a peaceful world to live in.

We are all born with the capacity to feel love, happiness and peace and the ability to learn and change. Our natural skill to learn comes from the same place within ourselves where we pull the unlearning. Unlearn what no longer serves you and be open to what could possibly fill the wonderfully empty space.

above photo from MichelleBulgaria on morgue file.com

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