POSTS & PROMPTS 5: Being Present in the Moment

There are moments when I catch myself not breathing. Thankfully, my body generally takes care of it 24/7. But there are moments when I notice myself holding my breath.

And so I stop not breathing by taking a long, slow breath. It wakes me up.

There are also moments when I catch myself living so much in the future--or the past--that I forget where I am.

Right. Here.

Oh yeah.

My life is going on around me and I'm daydreaming, or worrying or perseverating about some other time. And I'm missing my life and what is going on at this moment. 

And so I stop living in the future, or the past, at least for that moment. I blink my eyes and remind myself where I am. 

And I take a long, slow breath.

Meditation is all about that. At least what I've learned from my meditation teacher. Meditation is about being present in the moment, starting over and over and over again. When your mind drifts off into worries or distractions, your breath brings you back to right here, right now.

I love that. It is amazingly comforting and at the same time invigorating.

"The crashing waves call to me, reminding me that I can always start again and again and again."

Have you ever driven somewhere, gotten lost in your thoughts, and ended up at home only to blink your eyes, wake up from your distracted mind, and say, "Wow. How did I get here? I don't even remember the drive!"?

That's what I mean. It really wakes you up! The fact that you were MIA from your life and your drive but then there you are. Home. And it's comforting to know your life is still there and your brain can do so much at one time.

When my son was going through years of surgeries (I mentioned something about this in last week's Post & Prompt, on the topic of Letting Go) I often found myself grieving the past, and his days of good health and physical joy, or worrying about the future, with more surgeries, more pain and more sadness. And it was when I was able to let go of the past and the future that I found peace. 

It happened out in my pasture. I was meditating...I mean mucking out our pasture ;) ...when it hit me. 

I am right here. Right now.

I released myself from my worries about the future and thought, "I am right here, right now, in this moment. This is all I know." And suddenly--and I'm not kidding--suddenly I felt lighter.

I released myself from the past and thought, "That was then. It is no more. I am right here, right now." And suddenly, I felt peace. 

I wasn't denying that the pain had happened or that there might be (probably would be) more to come. I wasn't even denying that there was pain and sadness right now. But, boy, the pain and sadness of right now was an amount I could manage, way more easily than the whole, big, overwhelming package I'd been carrying around with me.

I felt the weight drop. Because being present in the moment releases me from the weight of the past and the weight of the possible future.

And then I dumped a wheelbarrow full of manure on our ever-growing pile! Haha.

Being present in the moment releases me from the weight of the past and the weight of the possible future.

That one awareness has stayed with me ever since. Not that I don't worry. Not that I don't suffer at times from a racing heart. Not that I don't lose sleep. I do. Boy, do I. But, I know that I can bring myself back, with a breath and a reminder to live in this very moment. That's all I need to do. Manage this very moment. And then the next one and the next.

I can do that.

What about you?

How do you remind yourself to stay present in the moment?

If you'd like to art journal in response to this topic, I invite you to download my art journaling prompt (button below) for some inspiration. I like to think of art journaling prompts as little shovels, helping you to dig deeper into yourself. 

This is part of my weekly series of blog posts and art journal prompts. I hope you'll use these to enrich your art journaling practice. For more ideas about how to art journal, check out my Art Journaling Nuts & Bolts video tutorial series. Or, sign up for an in-person class or online ecourse with me!