Emotional Wellbeing

Mandy Kloppers

Living in the now

 

The world around us seems to be moving faster and faster all the time. With the advent of mobile phones, and now smart phones, there never seems to be a moment to spare for ourselves. Yet taking the time to appreciate the present moment, and to truly experience the world around you, can be vital for your mental health and well-being.

The power of the present moment has been recognised by all kinds of people, ranging from personal development gurus like Jon Kabat Zinn to the scientists at the NHS.

Source: Wikimedia Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now, has sold over 4million copies in English alone and has been translated into 33 languages. It has even spawned its own online TV channel. Yet the basic premise remains beautifully clear:

The present moment, now, is all we have.

It is a simple, yet fundamental idea, and it is undeniably true. The past is nothing but memories and thoughts of things that have gone, and the future consists only of plans and worries about things that are yet to be. The only truth is the present moment. Just like a poker player, the last hand you played is gone, and the next hand has yet to be dealt. All that matters right now is the hand ranking of the cards you hold in this moment.

Source: Wikimedia

Just think about that for a minute. How many of what you would consider to be your ‘problems’ actually exist right now, in this moment? And how many of them are actually just thoughts about what has happened in the past, or concerns about what might happen in the future?

When you separate the present moment from your thoughts about the past and future, it can give you great power over them and reduce those thoughts to what they actually are, which is stuff your mind makes up. Our thoughts drive our emotions and our behavior. So, it is important to be aware of them and what they are so that you can take control of them, rather than letting your thoughts control you.

Of course, being aware of the present moment, and rather than getting lost in thoughts of the past or the future, is not an easy thing to do. Anyone who tries to meditate knows how quickly the mind wanders off. We call these ‘trains of thought’ because they take your mind away from the ‘station’ of the present moment. But once you become aware of them, it becomes so much easier to get off those trains and just sit quietly on the platform once again.

One of the best ways to bring yourself back to the present moment is to practice mindfulness. We go through so much of our lives in a trance, ignoring the world around us, and taking it all for granted in our rush to get from A to B. But if you take a moment to appreciate the smells, sounds, and feel of your environment — by taking in the beauty of a garden on your way to the station or the sound of the birds in the trees — then you’ll soon find yourself becoming grounded in the moment and enjoying being alive right now.

path outdoor light sky sunshine road white summer sign direction symbol blue street sign lamp point route signage note brand cheerful arrow sunny outside clouds happy happiness roadside message signpost signboard joy way joyful please pleasure content contentment ecstasy bliss delight bearing announcement traffic sign cheerfulness blissful announce glad pleased notification glee exhilaration gladness gleefulSource: Pxhere

Mindfulness is about the journey, not the destination. We all spend so much time and energy trying to get somewhere else, or be someone else, that we miss who and where we are right now. We’ve all thought at one time or another that ‘I’ll be happy when…’ (e.g., when I get paid, when I finish this project, or when such and such a situation is resolved). Of course, the problem with this approach is that you’ll never actually get to that point. The next wage packet comes with the next batch of bills. Your completed project will only be replaced by your next assignment. If you attach such conditions to your happiness, then the place where you think you will be happy will always remain tantalisingly out of reach.

Yet if you acknowledge the present moment, and find your peace there — away from regrets of the past or concerns for the future — you could be happy right now.

So, what are you waiting for?

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