Recently, I booked a trip back to New Zealand. I was so excited about seeing my parents after such a long time away. The trip was planned within an inch of its life. I would leave work after a nice lunch on Monday the 31st, then catch a 6:00am taxi to fly on the 8:45am flight. I was excited. My mum had cleaned the house, changed the sheets to soft flannelette jobs and bought expensive muesli for my breakfast. A few days before the trip, we were locked up again. I was going nowhere. But, knowing I should live in the moment, I tried not to be disappointed and rebooked as soon as we could travel. Same planning, same housework on my mother’s part but no need to buy more muesli. This time, we were positive I could fly on the Monday morning. Saturday night at 09:30pm, we were locked up again. And I rebooked again. We were locked up, again. As you read this, you are thinking, “well, you are stupid.” I’m trying now to live more in the present moment. As soon as NZ gives the green light, I will leave.
Anticipating our future can be fun and I have always found planning to be both motivating and essential. Before something exciting happens, our heartbeat is elevated as our brain starts to create the actuality of the impending occurrence. As the adrenalin kicks in, the primal urges are of flight or flight, our body is stressed, our senses are heightened and we know we are truly alive. This state of awareness is great if needed at the time but we cannot live in constant stress. It just isn’t good for us. Mark Twain is credited with saying, “I’ve had a lot of worries in my life, most of which never happened.” If we worry about future happenings, even though they haven’t yet occurred, our brain will take us through the emotional rollercoaster. Similarly, we humans have capacity to relive painful memories, as we remember them and not usually how they actually played out. Our brain helps us to ‘see’ and ‘feel’ those events over and over, causing us stress again.
The way to avoid the feelings of past and anticipated pain is to live in the present moment. Meditation can assist with this as we become aware of each breath and focus on our body. This will help calm your mind and alleviate stress which will help your mental well-being. Observe what is going on right now, let go of the past and don’t worry about a future that might not happen. Aunty Mojo sings, “There’s no time like this moment, the past has faded and tomorrow’s not here.” Our life is overflowing with present moments. Right now. Be present with the people in the room now. Don’t be on your mobile phone, waiting for a call which may not arrive. Give the gift of your attention to those around you.
I’m not suggesting you don’t plan. I love planning. It motivates me forward. But when my plans go awry, I try to come back to the present moment through meditation, playing piano, (you have no choice to be present if you want to hit the right keys!) or exercise, (nothing like a 10km run when the outside temperature is just about freezing to know you are truly alive!) And don’t hang onto the past. It has gone and you won’t get it back.
If you want an easier life, live in the present moment.