Over the last couple years, as I’ve taken an interest in self-development, I’ve been drilling into the areas of my life where I can improve and grow. One of these is my instinct to live inside my head. As many writers likely do, I have an imaginative and overactive brain, so it’s constantly whirring with thoughts. Sometimes it’s hard for me to focus on what is happening in the here and now because of it. I’m physically walking or cooking or brushing my teeth but my thoughts are way off in another place, thinking about other things.
I think it’s a natural human instinct to be like this – we all do it. We all enter autopilot when we are doing something we can almost do off by heart. But that doesn’t make it healthy or good for us. Being mindful of the things we are doing helps us be mindful of our place in the world and how we act within it.
Since I know this is an area I need to improve, I’ve recently started reading The Power Of Now, which is a self-development book all about learning to live in the present moment. It has some really fascinating and enlightening insights into how paying attention to the wandering mind and the emotions inside of us help us reach a sense of peace and acceptance. When we are in conflict with what is going on in our minds and our bodies, this is when issues and illnesses begin to creep up on us.
But, most of all, this book talks about the leaving behind of the past and the future.
Eckhart Tolle says:
“All negativity is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and denial of the present.”
Psychological time is essentially “made up time”. It’s when our minds start thinking back to past scenarios and future possibilities. It’s when we lose sight of what’s happening right in front of us, because we’re too busy dwelling on what has been or what could be. Of course, psychological time is necessary for many situations, from planning ahead for holidays or creating personal and work goals. The past is often helpful for us to learn from our mistakes. However, when we start living in this psychological time for no logical reason – perhaps we are overthinking or daydreaming – then we are denying the Now (the present moment). And if we are denying the Now, then it is as if we are telling our body that we don’t want to exist in this moment.
When I read this part of the book, it was such a fascinating insight for me, and it made a whole lot of sense. If we are living in the present moment, of course we will have no worries or stresses, because only this moment, right here and now, matters. Anything else going on in our brain doesn’t exist. We’ve conjured it up for no reason. And it’s harming us in the process.
When I think back to moments in my life that I’ve felt the most happy, they all involved me being fully present in the moment. I wasn’t scrolling through my phone, I wasn’t thinking about the future or what has been, I was really enjoying the here and now. And I noticed that these moments always occur when I’m around other people. Why? Probably because I’m not alone letting all my thoughts take over my brain. To replicate these moments in solitude doesn’t come as naturally, as I’m sure it doesn’t to most people, since our minds are always loudest when we are quiet, but it is something I am slowly progressing on.
The feeling I get when on holiday, of detaching myself from any everyday worries, is always such a calm feeling. That’s when the power of now has the most power within me. But what if we, as humans, could detach from this without changing our exterior surroundings?
I think there are everyday habits all of us can implement to help us get out of our own minds and focus on the present in order to overcome any unnecessary stress. For me, I’ve found that yoga has been the most beneficial. I’m focusing on my breathing and the poses so much that I’m tuned out from the world. The same occurs when I’m learning something new, like a new recipe or a new song on the piano. If we can enter a state of “Flow” in our lives, in whatever form that may be, we will find some sense of release, because we are in a continual stream of focus on a task, everything left behind as we conjure up something new and exciting and real and revelationary.
What do you do to help you live in the present moment?
Have you read The Power of Now too?
Let me know in the comments below!