Enjoy the present.
Have you ever felt that tug between trying to savor the moment right where you are, but at the same time, knowing you have to keep learning and growing and moving forward? It’s important to create clear goals and visions for yourself, right? But if your life feels stressful and consuming and you’re barely keeping your head above water as it is, how the heck do you focus on what’s up ahead?
It’s a tricky paradox, especially if you also believe in the power of letting go, “trusting the universe” and being in the present. How do you reconcile your need to savor the moment, while still keeping your dreams alive and moving purposefully toward them? Frankly, you have no choice but to start with where you are now, unless you want to live in a future fantasy land of if’s and maybe’s.
Think about working toward your future goals as if you’re aiming a bow and arrow. You’ve got to line up both sights — the one at the tip of the arrow (the future) and the one closer to your eyes (the now). If you want to hit your mark, both must be aligned and you must be firmly grounded in your present stance to follow through successfully.
One way is to “SMARTEN” up your goals is to make sure they are Specific, Measurable, Action-oriented, Realistic, Timely, Empowering, and Nurturing to your values.
Then, go bigger than that by creating a compelling vision and purpose for your life — one that gives your goals a context and larger intention. Get inspired by great inspirational quotes or you can be creative and make one for yourself. One of mine is: “How are you going to know when you’ve reached your destination if you don’t have a clear picture of what it looks like?”
Then, bring yourself back to now. Are you living in alignment with your core beliefs? Are you working to create balance in all areas of your life today? During times when you’re going through any big changes in your life, it’s especially important to practice being extra-conscious of blending your future visioning with your present living. Make sure both “sights” are aimed to maximize your highest and best potential.
Here are 5 ways to savor the moment today, knowing it will serve to ground and prepare you for the fabulous things to come in your future:
1. Come back to your body.
If you’re obsessing about the faux pas you made yesterday or the difficult conversation you have to have tomorrow, one of the easiest ways to bring you back to the present and savor the moment is to simply be in your body. Create some sacred space for yourself. Turn off the phone and any nearby screens and light a candle. Then, in the stillness, just start to move.
No music and no agenda. Just begin by sitting quietly on the floor and listen to where your body wants to go. Add a “witness” and it becomes a kind of moving therapy called “authentic movement” originated by Jungian therapist Mary Whitehead in the 1940’s.
2. Take time for a grounding meditation.
Of course, one of the most powerful ways to come back to your present self is through meditation. The trick is not to allow your mind to wander too far backward or forward, so sometimes it helps to have something to focus on; your breath or a mantra/affirmation are two common ones.
Try this core-grounding meditation: Breathe into your solar plexus, a network of nerves in the abdomen, on your inhale. As you exhale, imagine energy flowing down through your legs and deep into the Earth where you can “wrap” it around a hook. Then on the next inhale, draw it back into your solar plexus and anchor it there. Try it two or three times and savor that moment of pure connection with your body and with the Earth. You can even do it standing up.
3. Make worry beads or a talisman.
Our sense of touch is perhaps one of the strongest for keeping us in the moment. Create (or buy) a set of worry beads for yourself — just a simple string of beads that you can finger as you speak your past and future worries out loud, releasing them into the universe so you can re-focus on the present. Then, you can create your own “moment-savoring” amulet by choosing a favorite shell, stone, piece of jewelry or some other meaningful object. Imbue it with those qualities that you most need to remember when you’re spending too much time stewing about the would have’s, could have’s, and should have’s.
It can be trust, acceptance, peace, whatever calls out to you. It’s amazing what a simple touchstone can do for bringing you back to center.
4. Practice gratitude.
Really, this is an all-purpose stress-releaser and chaos-buster! When you’re feeling like there’s absolutely nothing to savor about the present moment, take a breath or do your core-grounding mediation, sit yourself down in a comfy chair with some paper, and start small. What are some of the people, habits, daily experiences that you take for granted?
Maybe you’re thankful that your son went back to school today after being sick, you got to have your favorite tea this morning, or your best friend sent you a funny text. Once you start with these little things, your gratitude muscle kicks in and other bigger ideas bubble up — the sun is shining today, a new work project showed up, you’ve confirmed your vacation plans. Reminding yourself of all the positive things in your life really has a magical effect on shifting your perspective.
5. Do something playful or silly.
What better way to pull yourself out of a downward spiral than doing something a little (or maybe a lot) crazy. Go to the playground and hit the swings. Crank up your favorite rock’n’roll tune, grab your air guitar (a tennis racket works great), and wail away!
And if you’re feeling a little more adventurous, head out to a karaoke bar with a friend. Or sit down with a baby nearby and make it your mission to make them laugh with funny faces and antics. Really, there’s nothing more infectious (and mood-enhancing) than baby giggles. Are you getting the picture? When life is chaotic and stressful, and you feel like everything’s spinning out of control, the idea is to take charge and decide what you want your “now” to look like.
If you can bring your awareness back to the present and find even the smallest ways to savor the moment, you’re on your way back to sanity. Remember the saying, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present.” How will you use your gift and savor the moment, right now?