Life in the form of peace, love and aliveness begins in the now. But the now can be hard to reach and extremely difficult to maintain. It’s like balancing on the pin of a needle.
One reason why the now might be difficult to maintain is because the conscious mind can only entertain one idea at a time. So when you get the idea I’m going to live in the now you could forget this thought and find yourself entertaining another idea in the next few moments. Then you remember to live in the now again, and a moment or two later you’re entertaining another idea. This constant effort to remember and move attention to the now can be mentally exhausting. It’s far easier to just go on auto pilot. But don’t despair (and don’t be lazy), the mind needs strengthening and just like any exercise it helps to have proper technique.
CUE THE NOW
Questions are a powerful way of directing the brain’s focus. The challenge is – it’s when your mind needs empowering questions the most you forget to ask them. There’s a solution to this challenge.
The brain works based on patterns. In fact, scientists estimate roughly 98% of your thoughts on a daily basis are the same thoughts you had yesterday. That’s right – the same problems, worries and concerns run through your head every day forming your story. That’s why constant learning is so important, the more new information you present the more likely you are for patterns to shift. Through awareness you can begin to interrupt your unconscious brain patterns and replace them with patterns of your choosing.
One pattern we’d like to create is what I call Cue the Senses. This is a very useful technique for grounding your awareness into the now. The goal here is to make the now state the foundation of your existence. How do you ground yourself in the now? Become totally aware of your sensory feedback which always originates in the now. You do this with a simple Q & A session inside your head:
- Q: What am I seeing right now? (sight)
A: Right now I’m seeing ..
- Q: What am I hearing right now? (sound)
A: Right now I’m hearing …
- Q: What am I feeling right now? (touch)
A: Right now I am feeling ..
- Q: What am I tasting right now? (taste)
A: Right now I am tasting..
- Q: What am I smelling right now? (smell)
A: Right now I am smelling..
- Q: What am I thinking right now? (thought)
A: A moment ago I was thinking..
Each question only takes a moment and it draws momentary attention to something that is happening now. You’ll notice at times through the day that some senses are more stimulated and enjoyable than during others. For example when my mouth is just full of saliva, I’m not tasting much, but when I ask that question during the meal – I enjoy the meal even more.
One other question I like to add to the list is: What do I love about this moment? It’s funny how easy it is for the brain to find what it’s looking for even in the dullest of situations. I’m sitting here in the airport right now and what I love about this otherwise dull moment is that I have an opportunity to share something I consider high value with you. I know that there’s a potential for some new life to be stirred inside you and that’s what I love about this moment.
Notice how alive you feel as you run through each of these questions. Don’t you feel a little bit more zest? Grounding your focus in the now helps create that feeling of connecting with spirit, which is always right here. Repeat these questions often. In the beginning it might help to place them somewhere you’ll see them frequently until they become part of your regular thinking patterns.
MAINTAIN AN INNER AND OUTER BALANCE
I used to schedule times to meditate and go within and that was separate from the time I was ‘out’ engaging the world. I needed ‘down time’ to recoup the energy necessary to simply engage the world. But what have found is that if you remember to feel your body from the inside while you’re engaging the world you can make small adjustments that bring down the levels of stress and anxiety. For example notice the energy movements, muscle tightness, etc. in your body through various experiences especially when you communicate with others. Maintain an inner / outer balance with the goal of grounding yourself in the now and reaching a point of flow for both you and the person you’re communicating with.
At first an increased state of consciousness might feel uncomfortable due to and increasing ‘self consciousness’ – to help this feeling pass just remind yourself that you do not allow other people’s opinion of you affect your self image. Remind yourself that you and the self are not the same. Easier said than done – but you can build this into a pattern the uncomfortable feelings of self consciousness will pass more quickly. And when you do enter flow states – watch out, cause they are fun. Well worth the effort of grounding yourself in the now.