Friday, April 11, 2008

Living in the moment

Hands, Za-Zen Meditation, Elheiji (Eiheiji) Zen Monastery, Japan, Asia by Ursula Gahwiler
Hands, Za-Zen Meditation, Elheiji (Eiheiji) Zen Monastery, Japan, Asia

The news of interest changes, credit crunch, crashing housing markets, looming recessions could spin us in a negative spiral, affecting our spirits, feelings and moods.

Living in the moment is a desirable and often confusing concept and does not mean that we simply forget the past or ignore the future. What it means is that we let go of the attachments and a loathing of past experiences and stop projecting those attachments and loathing into the future. It allows us every moment and every time to look at things with a fresh viewpoint and a renewed attitude instead of thinking that everything has gone wrong and nothing will ever be right again.

Living in the moment became crucial at a point in my life when illness eroded any hope for the future and the world seemed to crash in on me. Many people with Chronic Fatigue Syndrome spiral negatively into depression which is one reaction yet with a positive attitude against the trend I realised that I could not change what was happening at that moment and would need to take each moment at face value.

Practising mindfulness is characterised by feelings of stillness and oneness and experienced at times during yoga and meditation but when you manage this technique it can be recalled when hoovering, doing the dishes or walking.

I personally switch to mindful breathing using my breath to guide me in the present. Each time a breath comes in and goes out I release thoughts about the past and the future. Breathing mindfully allows the experience to come into my awareness,whatever it might be and to allow it to rise without attachment. Children will savour each moment of discovery in the present, looking at the colours of the rainbow, the raindrops without attaching a thought to it about its wonder or whether the weather is going to stay rainy all day. We as adults can practice this skill again too to enable us to be present and see the gifts that surround us with pure wonder and enjoyment.

The world around us is spinning faster and faster and our experiences can inform us that what has happened in the past is likely to happen again in the future; at the same time, we can presume that the moment presented is identical to the one we experienced and thereby automatically move in the action we moved into the previous time ignoring the fact that the moment presented is different.

We can notice similarities in our experience but they can never be exactly identical. Past performance is no indicator to future performance.

I could assume that all my efforts to downshift, recycle and live sustainably do not produce an effect so why should I even bother. Writing a diary and chronicling my efforts is however showing me personally progress is being made. I can still be easily overwhelmed by panic when my legs do not want to move, or when I wake up without refreshing sleep, or when my brain does not seem to be wanting to make connections however I can switch in those moments to mindful breathing, realise that I am OK and take appropriate mindful actions.

This time of the year sees a deluge of brown envelopes heralding the beginning of a new tax year. A past experience of dread may come into being, switching to mindful breathing I can release those, notice that I am holding an envelope and can file it in the accountants file to deal with. What follows is a realisation that I have a very capable accountant, that I pay her to take this task away from me and that no action is required immediately.

When we feel rushed we often forget we are human and react like robots or machines in the way we react to any moment in time.

Step 2 for living in the moment is about gratitude and will be explored in the next post.

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