Where to begin?! I was waiting for the perfect topic, the perfect words on the perfect day to write my first blog post on our new "Welcome to the Other Side!" page. Guess what? I never found the perfect topic, the perfect words or the perfect day. It’s taken me a bit to realize life is perfectly imperfect, and isn’t that what makes it so special???
Time. There are no guarantees. Do you find yourself, like me and so many others, finding yourself waiting for the right time to make a change; or waiting to drop to the “right” body weight to buy that new outfit; or finding the right time in our life to take that dream trip.
In reality all we have is right here and right now. Ok here is some nostalgia…turn up the radio while your mind transports you back to when Van Halen dominated the airwaves, the stereo is cranked, windows down and your big hair blowing in the wind to their hit song, “Right Now!” When this song was on the charts, I was twenty-something, with all the time in the world ahead of me. I danced and moved to the beat but never paid much attention to the words. Today, I find the words so relevant, especially as I’ve grown older and wiser.
Here’s an excerpt:
It's your tomorrow
C'mon, it's everything
Catch that magic moment, do it
Right here and now
It means everything
It's enlightened me, right now
What are you waitin' for?
Oh, yeah, right now...
If you have never heard the song, look it up!
All we really have is the present moment. The past is behind us and the future hasn’t happened yet. So much of our thinking about the past and future is filled with “what if’s??” For me personally it took a lot of work to not live in the past, asking the question: “what if” I never got cancer. Or, look to the future and think, “What if I get sick again?” What is your what if? Is it causing you to not live in the “right now?”
So much of our lives is spent focused on the “what if” worries, that we totally miss the joys in life. It takes a lot of work to shift to a mindset of living in the present moment. Instead of a “what if” mindset, we need a shift to an “I am” mindset. A positive mindset of “I am. For example, the “What if I get cancer again?” thought lives in my mind. But in reality, I am healthy at this present moment.”
It takes time and practice to change this mindset. Our minds have spent years forming superhighways of these “What if'' patterns that focus on the past and future We need to re-route our thoughts and way of thinking. If you live in a populated area you know how long it takes highways to be repaired and rerouted. As we are sitting in traffic jams due to construction we must be patient. We listen to music, a book or a favorite podcast. Why not show the same patience with ourselves as we try to reroute our thinking into the present moment.
Here is another way to see it…ask yourself this: how many weeks do you spend always longing for the weekend while dreading the weekday grind. We get stuck in a hamster wheel of…get up Monday, go to work, come home, make dinner, watch TV, then go to bed, only to hit repeat 4 more times? On Wednesday you chime in with the world and see it as “hump day”. Thursday comes and you are like, “YES! Almost Friday!” And this is where we miss out! Miracles and joys, both big and small, happen at any moment on any day, not just on Saturday or Sunday. We get so wrapped up in making it to the destination we forget to enjoy the journey.
Challenge Time!! I have a challenge for you; when (notice I didn’t say “if”) your mind goes into “what if” mode looking at the past or the future, take a pause and intentionally shift your mind to a positive present “I am” statement. Here are a couple of easy things you can try to get started.
1. Pause and look at the thought as though you are window shopping. You're walking by the store, see something interesting, pause and gaze at it but have no real emotion attached to the item and then walk on by. Next time a self-defeating thought starts to control your thinking, act as though you are walking by a store window. It’s easier to observe the thought without judgement and let it pass if we can step outside of our mind.
2. Take a Breath. Breathing is talked about over and over, and for good reason. Taking a deep breath can calm down our overactive mind. When anxious or stressed our mind functions in the sympathetic nervous system, often called “fight or flight mode”. Deep breathing activates the parasympathetic nervous system’s “relax and restore mode”. This mode allows us to find calm and be more present. We will talk more about breath in a later post. But, here is an easy exercise to start with: take a slow inhale to a count of 4, hold to a count of 4, exhale to a count of 4 and hold to a count of 4 before inhaling again. This is one round. Try 3 or 4 rounds of this technique known as a “box breath”. Aaaahhhh. Don’t you feel relaxed now?!
3. Affirmations: Think about a positive “I am” statement for yourself. For me I like to say “I am happy, I am healthy, I am holy.” This is a short, easy to remember positive statement that helps me come back to the present moment. You can use mine or come up with something that resonates with you. When I first started trying to reroute my mindset I would need to say my affirmation over and over again to find calmness. Now I can say it once as a little reminder to come back to the present moment.
Whew! ! I feel so empowered that I took the first step to write this first blog post! It may not be perfect but it is written from the heart. We are so grateful for all of the friends joining the community and Welcome you to the Other Side!
We would love for you to share comments on ways you find helpful to stay in the present moment.