The Power Of The Present Moment: Now Here or Nowhere
- Expert Advice
- 23 May 2016
It was a manic Monday morning. Priya had just sent her 9-year-old off to school. 8AM on the clock she dashed into the bath for a quick shower to make it in time for her 9AM meeting. With soap running down her head and face, her mind raced through a million things: ‘’How would Harsh fare on his math test today? I must remember the strawberries on my way home, after work! It’s Aunt Sarla’s 50th birthday this week!! What can I get her…What must I wear…”
Stepping out the bathroom door, with one quick glance at the clock (and a little shriek), Priya got dressed and charged into the kitchen.
Pouring herself some milk in a bowl for her cereal, her internal dialogue continued, “The presentation isn’t complete yet! Maybe I could just wrap it up now…” Taking large spoonfuls of her cereal with one hand, she powered up her laptop with the other. Sure enough, she WAS done in 5 minutes and the clock now showed 8.40! Walking hurriedly toward the door with laptop on one shoulder, handbag on the other, Priya reached out for her car keys with one hand and her ringing phone (sitting snug in some corner of her voluminous purse) with the other. While on call with her husband, she got into her car, casting aside her ‘luggage’ on the seat beside her and drove just about a few meters to realize she had a flat tire!
This isn’t just Priya’s story. It’s yours and mine too. Working woman or homemaker, one can almost visualize themselves through that entire scene, racing their way from one thing to another.
Let’s just rewind a bit.
When Priya was worrying about her son’s math test, or the strawberries, or Aunt Sarla’s gift… where WAS she? Definitely not at Harsh’s school, the supermarket, or Aunt Sarla’s birthday bash! But she WAS in her bath and she certainly WAS at her breakfast table. But ironically, she wasn’t there either, was SHE?
Let me rephrase that.
Priya was mentally absent at all the places that she was physically present… and vice-versa.
Isn’t this the way WE go about most of our day?
In anticipation of that which may or may not come our way, we fail to acknowledge that which is already sitting in our lap. Sure, we have our days to plan, deadlines to achieve, needs to fulfill. And we can still do it all. But, what makes us think that we will enjoy that which we’re planning and anticipating in the future, when in reality, we can’t do it in our present?
Starting from our ordinary routine tasks as simple as eating… cooking… reading… Are we simply and wholly just there?
Did you know that when you eat in complete awareness you eat much less? Because you are fully engaged in the act of eating. Savoring in your mouth the crisp or the soft, the spice or the sour and treating your eyes to all the colors on your plate! The beautiful fusion of the green and the orange and the yellow…! TRY IT! No phone calls, no book, no TV to go along. I dare you.
When you give all of yourself to the moment, be sure tat the moment gives all of itself to you.
Zen People call this ‘Mindfulness’.
When we’re with our little one after a long day of work, do we give ourselves to them entirely? Believe it or not, those few undistracted minutes with each other are far more potent in building ties than the several hours that we think we ought to be around.
Having said that, surely life doesn’t dish out moments to us one at a time. Hell no. But we can CHOOSE to deal with matters as and when they present themselves before us. We don’t have to go looking for them.
When we begin taking these baby steps, gradually the act of ‘being present’ will snowball into all areas of our lives. Initially, it may appear as a formidable task, painful even, but gently, let us keep bringing ourselves back. Time and time again. Because that which IS, will soon become WAS. But through it all, let’s not make space for feelings like guilt and anger upon ourselves for the numerous times we slip. It’s a whole new domain for us, isn’t it? Let us enjoy it as we tread on it. And in the years to come, we WILL see our efforts bear fruit.
- At the start of your day or week, make a checklist, or a things-to-do list, so that you’re not running it through your mind all day and all week. In doing that, you’ve freed up mental space to use more constructively.
- Be reasonable with those lists. It’s alright to not have it all packed into one day’s work! And it’s equally fine to have not achieved it all in a day as well.
- Put up gentle reminders around your workplace or home, maybe in the form of tiny post-its (make them colorful if you like it creative) or little alarms on your phone about the power of the present moment.
- Meditate a few minutes every day or at least spend some quiet time alone. Try and pick the same hour of the day if possible. This often helps gather scattered thoughts and is one of the best-known ways to constantly bring yourself back to the now. Every time you find your mind wandering, bring it back gently either by focusing on your breath, or just the present thought.
As Lao Tzu beautifully put it,
“If you are depressed, you are living in the past. If you are anxious, you are living in the future. If you are at peace, you are living in the present.”
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Kaajal Ahuja is a commerce graduate, who worked in the field of Customer Support first at HDFC Bank, and then at Dell International. During her 11-year career break, she spent four years volunteering as a Teacher at a government-run educational institution and also ran her own enterprise - ‘’Hey Gorgeous’’ - alongside, for 8 years. It was during her break that she discovered her love for writing, and is now back to work as a part-time Content Writer at JobsForHer. She is married and is an upbeat mommy to an 11-year-old.