More and more the message of the power of “Now” is seeping into main stream culture. Lots of self help gurus are talking about the preciousness of the present moment, encouraging us to embrace our Now and suggesting that living mindfully helps us to enjoy our life as it unfolds. All this is true, but how the heck do we embrace our Now?
I have come to realize that someone who is not embracing their Now is what we used to call being preoccupied. This strange phenomenon of being lost in our thoughts only occurs in humans. We have the amazing ability to recreate the past in our minds or to plan for a future that may or may not happen. Being preoccupied means to be engrossed in thoughts to the exclusion of other thoughts. It’s like a thought gets a hold of us and will not let go.
This grip on our minds could be a really good thing if we are occupied with something wonderful like remembering a yummy meal we shared with friends, planning for a fun vacation or looking forward to an exciting event. However, preoccupation can be downright harmful if your mind is trapped in the worry loop, stuck in crisis mode or trying to push a negative outcome away.
I believe that our thoughts are how we create our reality because where we direct our attention is where things grow. So, the question lies in where are you directing your attention? Are you dreaming and scheming for the things you truly want out of life or are you worrying and fretting over what you don’t want to happen?
Sometimes we think that when we are worrying or fretting we are protecting our life from the things we don’t want, but it doesn’t really work that way. We can never get what we want from a stance of protection. Our true desires come from an attitude of willingness and openness. So, how can you tell if you are creating your life or defending your life? It is all in the way it feels as you think about it. When you ponder a subject does it feel good or bad in your body? Does it bring you peace and joy or frustration and angst? Do your thoughts leave you energized or depleted? Do your thoughts light you up or knock you on your ass? Paying attention to how you feel is how you begin to tell in which direction you are leading your life.
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The best way to figure out if your thoughts are helping or hurting you is to notice. Sounds easy but it takes some practice. Often times we rush about our day from one project to the next never taking time to check in and see how we feel. We push those feelings down thinking I don’t have time for this now, or the feelings are too uncomfortable so we choose not to feel them at all.
By checking in with yourself, you are taking your own emotional temperature. Ask yourself how am I feeling? What am I thinking about? What is my mind doing? As you ask yourself these questions, really sink in and listen to your body. Are you tense? Are you relaxed? What subject are you focused on and does it make you feel good?
Noticing only takes a few seconds and the act of noticing automatically puts you in the Now. How? Because you have stopped replaying the story in your head and checked in with not only your mind but also your emotions and your body. When you check in with yourself it gives you the option to decide if the thoughts you are thinking make you feel good or bad, open or closed, tuned in or turned off? I believe the power of your Now is in this moment. This awareness is the fork in the road. This space is where you choose to decide your life moment by moment. Is my thought serving me or hurting me and what can I do about it?
If your thoughts feel good when you think them, keep on keeping on. Think the thought and allow your mind to let it ramp up its own momentum. If the thought feels bad when you are thinking it, you have some options. You can stop thinking the thought by changing the subject in your mind, you can choose to think a better feeling thought about the same subject, or you can allow yourself to continue to feel bad and hang on to that nasty feeling thought. It’s all up to you.
I believe that is why there is so much power in the Now moment. It’s the power to choose what we are thinking, how we feel and the actions we take. Those decisions occur in the Now. So, if you really want to live in the Now pay attention to what feels good and what doesn’t. Lean into the thoughts and emotions that light you up and loosen your grip on the thoughts that drag you down. Moment by moment.