What has brought me to this realm of peace and happiness? Struggling with a debilitating chronic illness, I was unhappy. I recall this memorable day, when I looked out and glimpsed the beauty of the whirring wings of a hummingbird, as it sipped the sweet nectar of life. There was an instantaneous feeling of living in the moment!
What does it mean to live in the moment? Your life consists fully of being in the present moment. Everything that happens, happens for you in the present moment. When you recall your past, you do it in the present moment and that which will happen (future) can only happen in the present moment. People ask how can we be in the present moment if we have to plan goals for the future? As Gandhi said, “The future depends on what we do in the present.” We all have a vision or goals for the future but we implement and plan it in the present moment.
Look at me, I spend most of my time in the present moment but I am goal-oriented and this brings about a sense of joy, and empowerment. I write down a daily plan and then I execute it while focusing and flowing with the happenings. Having goals and being in the present go hand in hand and are not contradictory. Stay in the present but keep your sight on the goal.
We tend to contemplate about the past or project about our future, and we let the precious moments slip by. Be cognizant of the moment which leads us moment to moment to what we term the’ future’ but is really the moment in the Now.
How does being in the present moment bring about happiness and peace? Mindfulness is innate and Jon Kabat Zinn defines mindfulness as, “Paying attention: On purpose, in the present moment, and non-judgmentally. In our society we tend to live on auto-pilot or mindlessness. Have you completed projects or achieved a goal with a feeling of just doing and grappling with wanting to get more and more done, instead of being mindfully present and just living? After having driven from San Francisco to San Diego, did I notice the sights and smells along this journey or was it that I reached the destination with my mind being on autopilot? Being present and in the moment is being in the here and now. We release the anxiety and stress of wanting more and for things to be different, by learning to accept the present moment as it is.
Being mindfully present, our monkey mind stops the inner chatter and we become present. There is this feeling of connecting with your deeper self, less distractions and there is an awakening which makes you feel alive and free. As Eckhart Tolle says, “People live as if the present moment were an obstacle that they need to overcome, in order to get to some better point which never arrives.” It makes living difficult. The peace which lives in my soul is that of being in the Now, aligned with whatever I am doing with the fullest attention and being their completely. It means that every present moment which is the best, builds on each other to bring out your realization as your desired vision.
What if the present moment is uncomfortable, unbearable or painful what do you do? What if your job makes you unhappy, you have an illness or you are in a difficult relationship? In these times how do you practice being present? There are a few ways that may help you: accept it, change your situation or remove yourself from it. What I have learned after years of living with a chronic illness is compelling, so hear me out. I suggest that you relax into the painful situation. Instead of fighting against the unquestionable moment of discomfort, learn to accept it. Acceptance does not mean giving up or fighting against: it is to flow with what is unfolding. Even though you don’t like it you will be at ease when you stop disagreeing. At that moment question yourself, such as do you have a roof over your head, do you have loved ones? During this difficult situation, you will be able to find something small but meaningful that you are grateful for.
Our society expects us to be able to handle all situations perfectly and we internalize and cause our own pressures. What if, in the next difficult instance you stop worrying about what should have taken place or what will take place. Take comfort in knowing that you are doing the best in this difficult time. I was too weak physically and mentally, and unable to walk well, so I accepted the situation I was in. Accepting and being grateful for the smallest of things has brought me to a place where I am now able to enjoy walking.
We think we can survive without help and we tend not to ask for help. Society makes us feel that asking for help is a weakness. There is a blessing in asking and receiving. In my situation, I let go of my ego and reached out to my family and close friends. I am grateful to each one of them for pushing me in my wheelchair when I needed it, being there for me and showing me their love.
Come on, live life in the present, do not relive the past or waiting for the future. Live with gratitude, and accept the situation, however difficult it is. Life is for the taking and it will open up to you in beautiful ways.
BOOK: Here is a synopsis of my self-help book, ‘You Are the Cake’. I struggled with serious health issues over the years and I have written about how I bounced back to living a happy, peaceful life. In the book I talk about the various self- help methods that I discovered along this journey which would be beneficial to all, with both trivial or difficult challenges. I realized that the fundamental element that we all need is to love and accept ourselves. We are the true essence, the authentic substance of life, not the icing, sprinkles or candles and thus the title, ‘You Are the Cake.’
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Book available on Amazon and other sites on July 24, 2019. Pre-orders July 17.