How do I stay present and enjoy all that life has to offer in the moment? How do I surrender to the beauty that surrounds me and ground myself in the Here & Now, while still being goal oriented and ambitious, meticulously writing to-do lists and strategizing to build a successful company?
I often feel like I’m two people – this super chill, life loving yogi and this determined, driven, get-shit-done business woman.
I know I’m not alone in feeling like that.
I’ve made a choice to embrace both sides of myself. In fact, I believe it’s essential that we all embrace ourselves fully! We can all be Super-Focused-Goal-Crushing-Yogini’s living on the precipice of the present moment and the excitement of a future presently unfolding. We can all be Business Buddhists, Practical Pot-Heads or Efficient Enlightenment Enthusiasts and live very happily and successfully.
Here are a few things we can do to help find this balance.
1) Stay Aware of the difference between consciously being in the moment and auto-pilot being in the moment. Being in the moment, for real, is at its root defined by a lack of mind chatter. It means your internal dialogue has ceased and the moment is completely free to move in any direction that it may.
Auto-pilot living in the moment looks like… going for a walk, taking some time out to enjoy nature, and while on this walk thinking about how long it'll be till your on the couch watching Netflix. Or, doing a yoga class and remarking on how much better you are and using your brain to think your way into deeper postures. Or, doing an exercise class and thinking about what so-and-so said and how good you're going to look from all your exercising. Simply put, auto-pilot living in the moment means your mind is still the boss; chatting away, trying to control the outcome and being attached to how it unfolds.
When we decide we want to fill up our cup of livin’ in the moment, that internal voice that always has sooo much to say, needs to take a nap. Easier said than done, I know. It is a mindfulness practice, and with awareness of the difference between the two, you'll get better and better at genuinely being in the moment.
2) Understand Why It's Important - Similar to the tip above, not only must we be aware of the difference, we need to know why it’s important to live in the moment. That in itself could be the topic of a blog (or a book), but for the sake of this blog, I’ll limit it to the main benefits relating to productivity and overall fulfillment in life.
It’s essential to live in the moment because your brain needs a break. Just like our body needs to rest at night so that it can operate optimally, our mind needs to rest so that it can do its best work for us. Our mind was never meant to be the star of the show. It was never meant to distract us continually with worries about the future, or regrets from the past... it was never meant to preoccupy us with doubt and self-esteem issues. It’s a supporting actor that helps us when we need it. Like when we're figuring out a problem, making lists, or creating our empire.
Secondly, we need to prioritize living in the moment because nothing feels better than when we're actually doing just that. (Think sex) And life is meant to feel good, yes? Everybody, ultimately wants to be happy… the surest route to happiness is allowing ourself the gift of Right Here, Right Now.
3) Know what we're up against. Be prepared; when there's lots on the go, this can be a challenging distinction to not only make, but to want to make. Mind chatter is very persuasive. Have you noticed? That voice in your head knows almost everything; it’s the cop, the lawyer and the judge. That voice is going to fight back when you want it to shut up.
“ I have too much to do to ‘live in the moment"
" Living in the moment? That's a luxury for people that have nothing to do"
“ Yes, yes, soon I will… but first, this… and that… and then this… “…
“ Maybe on the wknd I can do that ‘live in the moment’ thing. Right now there’s more important things to do.”
You have to know that taking the time to be fully present will not only have you be exponentially happier (true!), it will also have you be far more effective and much, much smarter. So, tell that voice where to go.
4) Plan for it - lastly, and perhaps the simplest. Use your conscious mind to soak up the information above, to recognize its truth and then to allocate regular times in your DAY when you will do this. (Once a week is not enough) I use my determined, driven self to plan ahead for times where I can be completely free and intentionally let go of whatever may be on my mind.
Coffee time is usually one of those times for me. Coffee is something that brings me endless joy - I savor the warmth of the cup, the aroma of the flavor I’ve chosen that day, and the cozy feelings it elicits no matter what time of day or year I’m having a cup. When I exercise, I consciously keep my awareness in my body – my mind gets no play there. Visiting with friends or family is another easy way to allow yourself to just simply be. It really can be anyway that you choose. Your morning walk can be Right Here Right Now time. Your showers can be your fill-me-up. Being in nature and using your senses to stay aware of your surroundings is like living in the moment on steroids. I find it helpful to allocate time each week where I'm outside, enjoying the fruits of whatever that season brings.
One last word to the wise; If you want to be a successful and accomplished rockstar in your world, as well as a happy, balanced and fulfilled life-loving earth child, embracing both sides of you is equally vital. Know when to use your brain, and use your brain to know when to tell it to 'shhh'. Don’t prioritize one over the other.