I woke up frazzled and in a state of panic that I haven’t felt in months. I had a dream where a pediatrician asked me if I as ready for baby #2. I woke up startled to the realization that baby M will make his grand entrance in approximately 3 months. My rich imagination instantly painted the dark horror that was awaiting me:
- My business is not ready for me to step away for 2 months. How am I going to afford to live?
- I am barely keeping it together now, how the hell am I going keep this up with a newborn? I get so overwhelmed that the ideas of going back to my ex or even being homeless seem safer than remaining a guest in my childhood home.
- I had so much help when my son was born and existing was so difficult. I took life an hour at a time. Not even a day at a time. This time around, with the kind of help that I have, who needs enemies?
As I was freaking my son out with cries and sobs on the way to daycare, I realized that I had fled the present moment and was traveling through make believe land. Here is the thing:
Time machines have not been invented yet so we can’t go back to the past and change our trajectory. All we can do about the past is forgive the people and situations, forgive ourselves and grow from the lessons the past has taught us.
The future has not been written yet. A meteor can hit the earth tomorrow and we will all die. In that case, I would have wasted my last days on earth freaking out about something that was never going to happen instead of enjoying my life. On the flip side, I might win the 2018 Super Bowl contract which would be the equivalent of winning the lottery in business. Who knows? Anything is possible and really, crazier things have happen!
You know how every manifesting and personal development coach talks about the importance of visualization? By letting your mind imagine difficulties in the future, you are actually attracting those problems with the speed of lightning. You are visualizing difficulties into your experience. No matter what doom and gloom I project out to three months from now, the only place I have any power is in the present moment. Instead of spending the day depressed about my seemingly bleak outlook, I can focus on the present moment, THE ONLY PLACE I HAVE ANY POWER, and take steps towards my big goals. I will deal with the future when it arrives in that present moment. Right now, I have plenty of potential clients to contact and other things on my to-do list that actually have the potential to change my future.
Here are my top 4 quick and easy tips for getting into and staying in the present moment:
1. Take 7 deep breaths. Close your eyes, take in a deep breath with your nose. The breath should go all the way down to your pelvis; fill your belly, stomach, chest, lungs and finally your neck all the way up to your nose. Exhale slowly through an imaginary straw you are holding with your lips. As you exhale, imagine the way air leaves a balloon.
2. Remind yourself that the present moment is all that exists. The past and future don’t exist. In fact, the only thing that exists right now is you, in whatever physical place you are at, with the people who are currently there. I am writing this at a coffee shop. My spirited toddler and crazy family don’t even exit right now. My ex and divorce proceedings are also nonexistent. Even my business partner doesn’t exist because he isn’t here right now. They are all figments of my imagination and not a part of my present experience. The only thing that exists at this moment is me, the beautiful baby in my belly, the reclaimed wood table underneath my laptop, my laptop, the music in the background and the two people sitting next to me who are vetting each other after meeting on Tinder.
3. Use your 5 senses to ground yourself. Stop to note:
• What are the 5 things you see? (Bus passing by, Exposed piping on the ceiling, Photo on the wall, Water bottle on my table, The impressive beard and head of hair on the guy sitting by me)
• What are the 4 things you hear? (The first date happening next to me, A woman’s heel’s tapping on the wooden floor as she passes by, Coffee being ground, Clinking of cups and plates)
• What are the 3 things you smell? (Coffee roasting, A hint of something sour, Mustiness)
• What were 2 things you feel with your touch? (The hard bench I am sitting on, The hair binder on my wrist)
• What is one thing that you taste in this moment? (Residue of coffee and almond croissant on my tongue)
4. Make a quick list of 10 things you are grateful for. Writing a gratitude list is a very effective technique for staying present. The “attitude of gratitude” can be hard to get into, especially when your world seems to be crumbling. All you have to do is start with a few things you are grateful for and your list will snowball. I’ll give you that first thing- you are reading this right now which means that you have access to the amazing internet and a device that can access the internet. Other things to be grateful for include clean drinking water, the clothing on your back and food. Then you can get into more personal items for your gratitude list.
The present moment is all we have. You will find that staying in the present moment makes you a happier and healthier human being. It’s also the only place where you have any power to define your future.