Today I find myself in a strange place. I’m surrounded by this fluffy sense of calm while a growing sense of anticipation is yelling at me from the fringes of my thoughts. I honestly don’t know whether I should jump up and do a victory dance or just focus on the feel of my fingertips on the keys as I write this blog post. I’m doing my best to stay right here, where I am, and trying to ignore that pesky egoic voice that’s attempting to fill my head with thoughts, images and imagined scenarios of the past and future. On the one hand, I love the feel of my fleece PJs (yes, I am in my PJs still and it’s 2:09 p.m.) as they slide over my skin and I am really trying to focus on that feeling, but on the other hand, that darn, incessantly gibbering voice in my head is really doing its best to make me grab onto it.
I’ve been studying the words and videos of Eckhart Tolle lately and his spiritual witticisms are really impacting the way I live my life. I’ve been learning to shut out that inner voice and to bring myself back to the present by focusing on what is happening with me at this moment. It’s amazing how easy it can be to turn off a thought just by acknowledging that it is there and then pouring my full attention into what I am doing at this moment. For instance, the other day, I had a nasty thought about Greg when he did something that I would normally frown upon, but I instantly recognized it and focused on the feel of my bare feet on the carpet. I stared at the little cracks and lines in my hands and just felt the carpet under my feet for a few minutes and all negativity just disappeared. The best part? It didn’t come back, even when my mind instinctively tried to revisit the negative thought. It was strange and exhiliarating at the same time and I thought to myself, Wow! That was so easy.”
I was walking my dog the other day – watching him run up and down a mountain trail as fast as he could with his tongue hanging out and his tail wagging furiously – and it finally donned on me that animals naturally live in the present. They don’t care if another animal hurt their feelings in the past and they don’t care what tomorrow brings. Instead, they live every moment to its fullest – they play hard, they rest hard, they take life as it comes because there is really no other way for them. Well, we are animals too, so why do we spend so much time dwelling on the past and constantly bringing it up? Why do we waste so much time imagining scenarios from our future when what we should be doing is focusing on what’s going on in our lives right now? For instance, have you ever had a run in with someone and then spent hours afterward imagining scenarios of what you should have said or what you are going to say the next time you see him or her? Did it get you anywhere? Did it have any effect- besides wasting your time and energy and creating more negative thoughts? Exactly. Have you ever had an argument with your spouse and immediately brought up something they’ve done in the past, just to add fuel to the fire? Did it help the situation at all? Exactly.
The next time you’re overthinking and you recognize it, try taking a few deep breaths and just listen to the sound of yourself breathing. Focus all of your energy and attention on your breath until you feel a shift within you and you feel present. You don’t have to meditate for years and years to learn how to live in the present and you don’t have to try so hard that your brain hurts. All it takes is a little effort each time you realize your thoughts are carrying you away. Stop what you’re doing. Focus on your breathing or stare at your hands or listen to the world around you. You’ll get it eventually and you’ll be amazed at what comes through when your mind is quiet for even a few, fleeting moments.
Who knows what my impending sense of excitement and anticipation will bring? All I know right at this moment is that my keyboard feels warm beneath my fingers, my house smells like cinnamon, our old dog is snoring softly in the corner of the room and today I have to focus on the things I can control. I hope every one of you can learn how to live in the present and that you, too, will feel this sense of calmness that I’m feeling today!
And, because I really love the Christmas Cactus that Greg bought me for my birthday, I thought I’d share it with you!
I wish you all enough…