The Power of Living in the Moment

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So you think you’re a great multitasker?   You’re not.

Even though you’re checking your email while you’re on a conference call, and also responding to an urgent text message, technically you are not doing them at the same time.  You’re probably also not really doing any of them as well as you could.  An article in Psychology Today cites a study by Stanford University researchers that shows the human brain can only handle a single task at a time. When we try to juggle multiple projects, we’re unable to give any of them our full attention. This scattered focus can cause us to make a lot of mistakes.

A lack of mindfulness has another downfall.  When we’re not consciously living in the moment, our attention drifts to imagining – or fearing – what might happen in the future, and also rehashing the past. A Harvard University psychology study showed that we spend nearly half our time, a good 46%, thinking about something other than what we’re doing in the present moment.

There’s a powerful anonymous quote making the rounds on the Internet that reads, “People wait all week for Friday, all year for summer, and all life for happiness.”  It echoes the message of a popular bumper sticker, “Don’t Postpone Joy.”

We’re not usually focusing on the positive parts of our past or future as our mind drifts, the Harvard study revealed.  Instead, we  are  postponing joy, and tapping into the darker emotions clouding our past and threatening our future. This lack of present moment awareness, research proves, makes us miserable.

Usually people will stay stuck in this no-win spiral of regretting the past and fearing what’s to come until they hit a crisis point – a death, illness, job loss, divorce.  Then, we’re forcefully pulled into the present moment.

We don’t have to wait for a huge life challenge to cultivate the healing and balancing practice of living in the moment.  In fact, by consciously choosing to shift our focus and actually be present for the little things in our life, we’ll be better able to handle the big things as they happen.

Start by setting aside 5 minutes a day to mindfully “be IN your body.”  Breathe deeply, feeling the coolness of the air as it enters your nose and the sensation of your belly and lungs expanding to fully take in the entire breath.  Now forcefully exhale through your mouth, experiencing the sensation and sound of the air leaving your body. Just be with your breath. Dissolve away any thoughts that might come into your mind.  Technically you’re not “meditating” – you are, as Zen Buddhism teaches, just “sitting.”

When you eat or drink, shift your entire attention to the act.  How does the apple feel as your fingers close around it? Notice how your arm lifts your hand to your mouth. What is the sensation of biting into the apple, hearing your teeth crunch through the skin, feeling the juices escape onto your tongue, mindfully and slowly chewing, then swallowing?

Take a walk in nature being fully conscious of every sound, each color, all the noises, the subtle or pungent aromas, and every move your body makes.  Feel the sun, the cold or the rain on your face.  Be aware of how your body navigates each step; how your arms move, how your breathing changes.

Stroke your pet, feeling the course or fluffy texture of the hair, being aware of how their muscles relax to your touch, fully returning their gaze.

For any and all activities you choose while you’re practicing being fully present, completely surrender yourself to the moment.  As author and sage Eckert Tolle teaches, “You’re not IN the universe, you ARE the universe.”

In his book,  The Power of Now,  Tolle shares the concept that every person is a unique expression of the Universe, allowing the Universe to become more conscious of itself and realize its own essence through us.

He describes it as the outgoing movement of wanting to create something in our lives – a relationship, a family, a job, and a legacy – and the return movement as coming totally into the present moment.  We can step away from the process of “becoming,” he says, to be fully in the moment, and go deeply into “just being.” 

Ironically, when we shift to being fully present for each task we’re doing and stop worrying about what we have to get done, we become much more efficient, and the work we do is of higher quality.

With mindfulness, Tolle teaches, we can stop losing ourselves in the “doing” of life, and discover the true joy, richness and productivity of “the power of now.”

You can find Eckert Tolle’s book,  The Power of Now , in the OHI Store.

Learn more about being present while you’re also learning how to cleanse your body, quiet your mind and celebrate your spirit at the Optimum Health Institute in San Diego and Austin, Texas.  We can help you achieve your mental, physical, emotional and spiritual goals for optimal health. Visit our website at  www.optimumhealth.org , and call us at  (800) 993-4325  to make your reservation.

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