Where Is This “Present Moment” Anyway?

I was speaking with a friend the other day about a situation that was bringing up a lot of anxiety. After a while, we both started to laugh about where the present moment was when this seemingly so problem felt so big.

I think we all have these times. On occasion, the present moment seems totally there–maybe while you’re in your yoga class, or while you’re having fun talking to a friend, or doing an activity you really enjoy. But other times, you’re nearly asking yourself, “Hey! How come I can’t calm my mind right now? Where is this Present Moment when I need it?!”

When those times come, it is easy to be hard on yourself. You almost feel like none of the meditating, mindfulness or yoga practices you’ve done have helped at all. But these times are the most helpful in bringing you back home, to you.

When the anxiety or stress seems to build, try the following things:

  1. Just Stop. Slow things down, physically and mentally.
  2. Notice the details of your surroundings. Place your feet on the floor. Feel the textures of your clothes. Feel your breath. Notice the objects in your field of vision. Notice where you are right at that moment.
  3. Sit back and look at yourself and your thoughts objectively. A good way to do this is to name yourself and your experience of your thoughts from a distance (e.g. Human Name is experiencing that Another Human Name(s)/Thing has created this stress.)
  4. Whenever there is the thought or feeling that something is happening to you by another person or thing, realise that you are giving your own, personal energy to that situation. And it’s time to bring it back. This can be one of the hardest parts, but you can do it in a kind and easy way. Whatever the situation is, see if you can stop looking out at the problem, and turn your attention inward, to yourself. I often will talk directly to my body, to help sooth it and make sure it feels safe. I’ll put my hand on my chest or my belly and say, “It’s okay. You’re safe. There’s nothing out to get you. You can draw your energy back to yourself now.” And when you start to draw that attention and that energy away from the stressful situation, and lovingly bring it back to yourself, you realise that there never was a problem and that everything is okay.
  5. And in that soothing, and the shift from frustration to love and understanding, the present moment is there. It’s always there. All there is to do is sit back into it, clear a bit of mental clutter, and enjoy.

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