Living in the Now

The run up to the holidays can be a stressful time for many of us. Shopping, crowded malls, depleting bank balances, cooking, decorating, travelling and a myriad of other activities that are part and parcel of the holiday season. For others, looking ahead to the holidays can intensify loneliness, stress or sadness, especially for those who have lost a love one and are still grieving.

Then, when the rush is over and Christmas behind us, we start looking ahead to the New Year. Resolutions, setting goals, making plans, wondering what the coming year will bring. Perhaps reflecting on the year just passed. The problem with ruminating about the past (which we can’t change) or worrying about the future (of events that might not even happen) is that we are missing out on the present moment. Jon Kabat-Zinn, bio-medical researcher and the man who brought mindfulness into Western mainstream culture said, “The real meditation practice is how we live our lives from moment to moment”.

Living in the now is called mindfulness and involves active and intentional attention to the present moment. Scientific research has shown that our health can benefit from mindfulness including the improvement of sleep patterns and reducing stress and anxiety. It helps us to manage pain as well as prevent relapses of depression, and a range of other benefits. Mindfulness was also shown, most notably by researcher Dr. Richard Davidson, to “rewire” the brain so that we are better able to cope with difficult or stressful events. It improves self-esteem, the ability to focus and helps us develop self-control over our mental and emotional well-being.

Living in the moment might seem a difficult task for those whose present is overshadowed perhaps by illness, stress, emotional or physical pain or difficulties at home. Why live in the moment when “the now” is not so great? The key to mindfulness is the realisation that we are not our thoughts. The practice helps us to distance ourselves, without judgement, from the negative emotions that threaten to possibly overwhelm us. Jay Dixit, author of The Art of Now: Six Steps to Living in the Moment (published November 1, 2008), states, “If you feel anxiety, for instance, you can accept the feeling, label it as anxiety…You watch your thoughts, perceptions, and emotions flit through your mind without getting involved. Thoughts are just thoughts. You don’t have to believe them and you don’t have to do what they say”.

Mindfulness presents an interesting paradox. You cannot pursue it with a goal in mind. Looking ahead and being result-oriented implies a future mindset and that negates the premise of living in the moment. Dixit states in her blog, “Ironically, letting go of what you want is the only way to get it”. Adopting mindfulness as part of our fast-paced, busy and sometimes challenging lives can be difficult and involves practice and effort. And yet, mindfulness itself is so beautifully simple. The following excerpt is from Dixit’s blog which best describes how simple mindfulness can be.

“As you read the printed words on this page, as your eyes distinguish the black squiggles on white paper, as you feel gravity anchoring you to the planet, wake up. Become aware of being alive. And breathe. As you draw your next breath, focus on the rise of your abdomen on the in-breath, the stream of heat through your nostrils on the out-breath. If you’re aware of that feeling right now, as you’re reading this, you’re living in the moment. Nothing happens next. It’s not a destination. This is it. You’re already there.”

By Elaina Curran, HPD, DSFH, AdvDPLRT, Clinical Hypnotherapist and Past Life Regression Therapist

As published in BS35 Local Magazine, Christmas 2018 Issue 


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