(this post is a few months late)
The present moment- that thing that’s talked about all the time everywhere from the spiritual world to the therapy world to the average layman. It’s not something we are really taught to value. We are taught to spend our lives living for some future goal, the next deadline, the to do list for tomorrow, all while immersed in our iphone, ipad and social media even when we are sitting across from someone having a conversation ( we are all guilty). I never realized how much I lived for the future until the year of my downward spiral occurred. Things were bad so it was hard to not live for the future but the problem was my happiness was dependent on it. “I’ll be happy when I am better and can do this,” was my thought process or “This place sucks, it will be better somewhere else.” However, as things got progressively worse, I found myself craving for the month before when things were slightly better. Yet when I was there, all I wanted to do was live for some time ahead. When I finally ended up on my hospital rounds, it hit me hard. Every place I got transferred to seemed worse than the place before. I realized I had to start living for the now. Appreciate what I had in the moment. Find the good in the now. Once I made that shift, it was monumental. I started finding things I could appreciate in the very moment. It doesn’t mean I gave up my goals or didn’t have things to strive for in the future, it just meant being present. Any time we are worrying, in a state of unease or anxiety, we simply aren’t present, we’re somewhere in the future or ruminating over the past. As they say “the present moment is a powerful healing moment.” Even if we are in physical or emotional pain, showing up with full presence is the fastest way through. Fighting, resisting and wishing for something else simply sets off stress responses in the body and of course causes so much unnecessary emotional suffering. The prior allows us to feel the pain, work through it, heal and move forward. This is what being alive is all about. I remember one time while I was in “jail” that present moment awareness hit me. I was in the wheelchair and my two friends were throwing horseshoes. I sat there on a beautiful sunny day just watching them. I was full of pure joy. I could still enjoy the present moment no matter the situation. The physical limitations didn’t matter when I was fully present. I took that home with me and used it with all the amazing birds outside my home. Watching them would bring me back to full presence: their beauty, the way they interacted, the different species. I find as I am getting better the impatience creeps in. I have come so so far but as I can do more, I want more. I’m able to do about 1000 steps in a day which is a lot, considering I was at none, but it’s still a long ways before I’ll be walking around in stores, doing errands, etc. I still have days when I over do just ever so slightly on my steps or activities and I crash even into the next day as well. Those are the times I find my mind wandering to the impatience, the what ifs, the fears. This is where my own advice is needed. I remember to look at the birds and let them bring me back to the now. I know with my whole being that this isn’t forever (except when my mind tries to worry otherwise) and even if I’m feeling impatient or even bored, this time period is a gift. I have the time to heal and take care of myself. I have the time to do a lot of things I wouldn’t be able to if I was in the “normal world.” I have time to do healing activities with my online Skype group. Even from a few months ago, there’s a lot less days stuck on the couch (which I now see the positive and realize it was an opportunity to watch some good shows). It all comes back to acceptance- acceptance of where I’m at, with the deep knowing of where I’m going. We all forget the present at times. If the present feels miserable- then change your situation, you can always do that simply by changing your thoughts. If you’re living for some other time- stop and come back to the now, find something that brings you back. The one thing I have learned through this is you never know what tomorrow will bring. You never know when your whole life might change. “If you want to make God laugh-tell him you have plans” All we can do is live each day for the moment. How about you? Do you live for the present or are you living for some other time?
UPDATE:this is was written many months ago . Since this has been written, I have continued to improve dramatically which will be another post. I can walk around 5000 steps. I am getting much stronger. But the lesson still holds. As I continue to improve so much, I sometimes forget to remember how far I have come rather than what I can and cant’ still do.It’s easy to wander there but then I remember to find the joy in the now and what I can accomplish. It is something each and everyone of us can practice!