Yesterday I renamed my blog and scrapped the old format. So much about my life and beliefs has changed over the past two years that for a few months I considered deleting it altogether and starting a new one. In the end I decided to just rewrite the about page to hopefully reflect what I have been learning recently: how to live in the present moment. The process requires training the mind to quiet the endless loop of thoughts that either pull me back into a past that no longer exists or push me forward into a future that has yet to arrive. Ultimately, the goal is to give attention to the body in order to experience the now. I am learning to do this, but I admit that I find it hard. It doesn’t help that I spent a large portion of the last half century trying to escape the present moment.
While completely remaking the blog would be apropos and perhaps even beneficial, it still holds true that every step I have taken thus far, every experience, every relationship, every decision, every addiction, every milestone, every job, and every location – indeed, everything up to this moment has led me to this moment. My journey has been a long one and not easy, if you count all of the years I managed to avoid living in the now. Retraining a mind in the habit of wandering through every moment except the present is a slow process but it can be done. Wisdom demands that it happen.
Meditation has proven most useful for me in taming my ‘monkey mind’. Most of the young adults I come into contact with (including my own children) look at me sideways when I say the word ‘meditation.’ This saddens me because they do not yet comprehend the power of a bad habit – something a fifty+-year old is all too familiar with. In fact, I have been told that our emotions and practices are fixed by the time we are thirty-five. My children and others like them have not yet discovered how difficult change can be – especially breaking away from habits ingrained into our brains over a lengthy period of time. But then, they have not yet learned the incredible power of intention either. So, while it would be easier for them to practice meditation and living in the present at a younger age, I am proof that it can be done at any age.
Our life’s journey is traditionally thought of in terms of seasons. If spring is indicative of youth and winter of old age, then it is my experience that wisdom is seldom born before autumn. Thankfully this is not always the case. Today I found a poem penned in 1989 by a fourteen-year old boy that perfectly sums up my thoughts about living in the now.
It was spring, But it was summer I wanted,
The warm days, And the great outdoors.
It was summer, But it was fall I wanted,
The colorful leaves, And the cool, dry air.
It was fall, But it was winter I wanted,
The beautiful snow, And the joy of the holiday season.
It was winter, But it was spring I wanted,
The warmth, And the blossoming of nature.
I was a child, But it was adulthood I wanted,
The freedom, And the respect.
I was 20, But it was 30 I wanted,
To be mature, And sophisticated.
I was middle-aged, But it was 20 I wanted,
The youth, And the free spirit.
I was retired, But it was middle age I wanted,
The presence of mind, Without limitations.
My life was over.
But I never got what I wanted.
~ Jason Lehman
I have learned that next to meditation, gratitude opens the door to the present moment like nothing else. If you are having trouble putting the past behind or if thoughts about the future are weighing you down, simply take a breath. Consider how astonishing it is that your lungs convert oxygen into carbon dioxide so efficiently that you never even notice it much less have to manage it. Your heartbeat sends life energy throughout every cell of your body without you even needing to think about it. Now breathe in deeply and relax the muscles around your eyes and jaw. Smile. What could be more beautiful than you right now, in this present moment? And in this moment I am so very thankful for your presence in my life. ❤
Perhaps you have some wisdom to share or questions to ask about living in the now. I would love to have a conversation about where you are in your journey. Please feel free to start one in the comments below. Love & light, and thanks for reading.