Updated: Dec 10, 2019
There are specific moments of my life where my mind is an animal, freed from its leash and chasing after anything in sight: the occasional excess wait time at a red light; the early minutes of morning upon waking; the silent moments in between the busy ones at work; lying awake in bed at night listening to the crickets hymn. These are the occasions where my mind likes to run, slamming one foot after another, propelling itself further and further into an imaginary future.
Nothing is definite; there are no guarantees to this prophecy my head conjures up, but I can swear to you I see it all in such profound clarity. The colors; the hues; what he’s wearing; how I’ll be feeling; the speed that I’ll be running out the back door like she once did; the words they’ll say when they tell me I should have listened to myself.
You see, the thing is, my mind, as I’m sure yours does too, likes to jump back and forth between reality and fiction. One minute I am myself, Danielle, sitting at my desk before work and composing a blog post I have been meaning to write for a long time. In five minutes, I am Danielle in six months from now, living out fears she has been tucking behind the hidden crevices of her interior. I haven’t had a cup of coffee yet and I am already eight months into the future of what my life may potentially become.
I have this tendency at times to worry about things that haven’t even happened yet, and in most cases, never will. I flash forward past the charming montage of pleasant moments and straight into the conflict of it all.
Well, what if this happens? What if that proves me right? What if I am wrong? What if it all wasn’t as it seemed? What if, what if, what if…?
I have begun a practice of bringing myself back to the present moment whenever this occurs. I remind myself that I am not Danielle in three months, two years, next week or even tonight. I am Danielle, right here, in this instant, in this perfect moment of now, where all that exists is what is currently going on around me. I bring my attention back to my breath and breathe in the grace of all that is alive and well and real - right now.
Kris Carr, the author of Crazy, Sexy Cancer, became a huge success when she placed the ever shunned c-word next to words like crazy and sexy. When Karr was diagnosed with a rare and incurable cancer on Valentine’s Day of 2003, she set out to discover a balance between western and holistic medicine. In the ten plus years since her diagnosis, she has been maintaining a healthy and vibrant lifestyle through her nutrient-dense, plant based diet. She still lives with cancer, but she is living with it vigorously, gracefully and happily.
When interviewed, people often ask her how she handles routine doctors’ exams – is she ever terrified that she is going to hear bad news on her next medical visit?
She responds by saying of course she gets fearful, she is human after all, but she has to remind herself in these moments – on the car ride to the doctor’s office – that she is not sitting with her doctor and she is not hearing any prognosis just yet. She is in her car, alone and listening to music. She has to bring her attention back to the present moment and to all that currently exists.
All that is alive and well in that perfect moment of now is Karr simply as she is – driving, listening to the sounds around her, with her eyes straight ahead, and a constant reminder to breathe in the freshness of the current atmosphere.
This is a hard task to do at times, especially when it’s dealing with an issue that is more bothersome than usual. It may feel like you have to keep repositioning yourself back at square one after thirty rounds of persistent effort – but this is a good thing because you are breaking a habit that you’ve been rehearsing for most of your life.
It’s hard work because you’re unlearning every natural thought process that arose at the dawn of internal struggle, resistance, fear, and sorrow. You’re teaching yourself to live in the present rather than in an imaginary, dim and uncertain future.
I think this is a really important tool to cultivate, at least for myself, because I can't continue living my life in places that don’t exist – in thoughts that strike a rise out of me simply because they trigger my fears.
It’s kind of crazy when I really think about it – instead of being in the present moment, I am choosing to exist elsewhere – somewhere less desirable, with limited options and altogether invented from my own psyche. How dissatisfying and disappointing is that?
I take a deep breath in through my nose, I hold it for a few seconds as the air wanders my bones and I breathe out all that is no longer serving me – everything that is preventing me from enjoying all that is well and real right now. I do this two more times with the awareness that I am here, in this instant, in this perfect moment of now.
“I am aware of all that I create around me. Sooner or later, all that I do and all that I think comes back to me in some way. Be it positive or negative, I will reap the fruits of what I have sown. Therefore, I abundantly fill my life with light and love; for all the seeds of light I sow, I will harvest the greatest riches.” –Mario Duguay
All is well in my world.