Stay with me,
here with me
Right in this instant,
not in the distance
When your head is off
in future time
That’s the place when
things get out of line
Taking in this moment
your time is so well spent
wherever you are right now
I tell you it’s alright,
that’s where you’re supposed to be now
Stay with me,
here with me
Right in this instant,
not in the distance
Standing at a cross roads,
I was at a loss
Those temporary moments,
pleasures that are stolen
Here in the present
your time is so well spent
I don't know about you but lately I've had summer on the brain and 311's new song "It's Alright" (lyrics above) has pretty much set the stage for my summer mood these days. I cannot help but rewind to all of those lazy, languid summer days when I would "work" at the pool (was that really a job?) or cool off indoors with a stack of great novels. I lived for the summer -- the freedom, the relaxation, the reading. I loved the time I had to myself. I loved the beams of sun hitting my skin as I sat by the pool, flipping over every 20 minutes in an attempt to perfect my tan. I loved the wind tangling my hair as I road around in my mother's convertible (or, later, my boyfriend's Jeep Wrangler). I love, love, love summer. I cannot say that there is a moment I would rather be in than a pure, unadulterated summer moment complete with sunshine, a great book, and a happy-go-lucky companion.
Of course, now that I'm a "grown-up" (really? already?!), summer has taken on a different mean. While things at the office are generally more lax and, if I'm lucky, the weekends are filled with glorious sunshiney days spent lounging by the pool, I certainly don't have that unbridled sense of freedom that once came with the three months lying nestled between spring and fall. I might feel that bit of tingling excitement in the pit of my stomach when I wake to a warm, sunny day, but I still have to dress myself properly and go to work (I'm pretty sure laying out in mid-afternoon in my bikini would be heavily frowned upon...). Unlike when I was younger, summer does not equal no responsibilities. Instead, it's the same responsibilities, just with a sunnier backdrop (and longer days...which, actually, are one of the greatest things about the summer months). I want my old summers back. Desperately.
But, as we all know so well, you can't go back (and sometimes this is a really, really good thing). All we have is this moment, the PRESENT. As the author of a blog with the word "present" in the title, I should be a bit better at staying in the moment than I am. However, I'll tell you the truth, readers: I have a very hard time -- VERY hard time -- staying in the moment. At any given point in time, I'm usually thinking about the past (longing for it, cringing at it, romanticizing it, dreaming about it, hating it, reliving it...) or I'm thinking about the future (imagining it, fantasizing about it, dreading it, wishing for it, planning for it, wanting it...). I'm am very rarely living in the moment, which, really is the reason I started this blog -- to learn how to live positively in the moment.
Sounds like I have some work to do, huh? After all, how can the author of a blog with the word "present" in the title not be living in the present? How can someone that wakes up to see huge 6 inch letters reading "LIVE HAPPILY EVER AFTER NOW" every morning not be living in the moment? Well, as you can imagine (and have probably experienced first hand), living in the moment is HARD. For whatever reason (were we taught to do this?) so many of us are thinking about the past (which is over and gone by the way) or dreaming about the future (which, let's be honest, might never happen). I know I'm not alone in this, but I no longer want to be part of that group of people who spends more time on the past and the future than they do on the present. As much as I write, as much as I read (The Power of Now anyone?), I still find myself stuck in the past or longing for the future.
If I don't do something soon I will be spending this entire summer reliving and pining for my high school days working at the neighborhood pool or longing for the days when I no longer have to work at an 8-to-5 gig. I will, essentially, waste this summer if I don't start living in the moment. And, as someone who adores summer, I cannot let this happen. I need to seize this moment and live in it. I need to stretch out into the sun of this summer and love it. I need to kick of my shoes and dip my toes into the moment.
This is serious. Very serious. There is a possible summer at stake. I have to take action. NOW. So where do I begin? I've read tons and tons of books and, while I adored them and swore to myself that I was going to live by them, I haven't taken much of their advice. I visit tons and tons of awesome blogs and, while I get great info from them, I don't find myself really putting the authors' ideas to good use. Reading something is only going to do good if I actually use it in the moment. So, I guess, what this means, is that I need something I can use in the moment. Not an article. Not a book. Something I can do, right then, to remind myself to be focused.
Aha! I've got it! I'll ask myself questions!
Okay, okay, I know the exclamation points and the paragraph separation made this seem like it was going to be some sort of OMG, revolutionary idea. I understand that this is not the next great invention or words-to-live-by philosophy. Just bear with me here. Questions are simple. Questions are something I can do right in the moment to remind myself to stay present. They won't require me to memorize Tolle or fumble through my wallet for a piece of paper with a powerful quote on it. Questions are something I can do at any time, in any moment. Like...right now! I doubt I'll remember all of these questions the next time my mind is wandering around aimlessly, darting from past to future and back again, but I'm sure at least one of them will come to mind and, really, that's all I will need.
10 Questions to Keep You in the Moment
- Am I living in the moment right now?
Yes, sounds simple enough, but I think this one could be really effective. After all, you're getting straight to the point here. You're asking yourself straight-up, no BS, if you're in the moment. I'm pretty sure this one will work for anyone, anywhere, anytime.
- What is awesome about this situation?
This is my personal favorite because it calls attention to both the present moment AND the positive (which couldn't be better for Ms. Positively Present herself!). These days, I'm always looking for the good in life and I think this question will help me even more with that task.
- How would I describe this moment to someone?
Being a writer, this is a great one for me because it helps me to focus on the details of what's going on around me. For example, right now I see lots of green, green grass in need of a haircut and, in the distance, I hear a lawn mower grumbling...
- What are my five senses telling me?
If you think about it, our five senses can tell us A LOT. I feel the keys under my fingers, I hear the lawn mower purring and coworkers chatting, I see the screen and the words popping up like magic, I smell my vanilla-scented lotion, and I taste an energy drink in my mouth.
- Can I add anything to this experience?
Not only can you be IN a moment, but you can be PART OF a moment. This question prompts me to think about what I can bring to this experience. Can I make a suggestion in a meeting? Can I share a new song with a friend on a road trip? What can I DO to be present?
- What new things am I learning right now?
If you haven't heard, I'm a BIG fan of learning. I love, love, love it and would give anything to be in a classroom right now, but, more and more, I'm learning that life is a classroom and I can learn from everything -- even things I've already experienced before!
- Am I really seeing or am I just looking?
More often than not, I experience things without really experiencing them. For example, I look at something but I don't really see it. Or, and this can be trouble, I say things without really thinking about them. There is a different between looking and seeing. Think about it.
- What will I remember from this?
Okay, I know this sounds like it's addressing the future (or, in a weird way, the past), but when you think about what you will take away from a moment you become more in tune with what's happening in the moment. Don't believe it? Give it a try and see for yourself!
- Which emotions am I experiencing right now?
Just like paying attention to our five senses, identifying our emotions can be a great way to stay in the moment. For example, right now I'm excited because I was written about on Blogging Without a Blog and I'm happy about putting this post up soon. Take time to feel what you feel.
- How amazing does it feel to be alive?
Being alive is something I take for granted all the time. It's so basic, so obvious, that I don't really think much about it. But, now that this question is in front of me, I'm amazed at how lucky I am to be here, at this desk, with this average view, writing. Life is A-M-A-Z-I-N-G.
I really believe that asking myself just one of these questions every time I find my mind wandering will really help me to be more mindful. Personally, my favorite is "What is great about this situation?" because not only does that one force me to be present, it also forces me to think positively. (For those of you not that into thinking positively, try this one on for size: "What absolutely sucks about this situation?" That probably works just as well for keeping you in the present moment!) If I do one thing this summer, I hope is this. I hope I learn to focus my attention on the present moment and really, truly spend time where I am right now, in THIS moment.
How do YOU stay present?
What advice would you offer for living in the now?
Do you have a question you ask yourself?