People can feel anxious thinking about the future; and can suffer from depression by thinking about the past.
These are two very broad statements and are not intended to simplify or dismiss either of these conditions.
However, by focusing on the middle bit, the here and now,
we can quieten those thoughts and inner voices that can unsettle us.
Meditation and particularly, "Mindfulness" is all about this: appreciating the present.
“Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That is why it is called the ‘present’.”
- Master Oogway (from the film Kung Fu Panda)
(I ain’t gonna argue with a quote from a film about a bear that is trained in martial arts!)
And equally, I have strict rules about being present. For example, when I'm out with my beautiful girlfriend, Sarah, I'm out with her. I try to focus on being with her, rather than thinking about the other 101 things I still have to do at work, or generally in my life!
On the other hand, when I'm at work, I don't spend time on my phone doing stuff that isn't work related, unless I'm on a break or it's an emergency. I'm not sitting on my phone, scrolling down Insta or procrastinating. I'm working.
When I'm out with Sarah, I'm out with Sarah. When I'm at work, I'm at work. And when I'm with my family and friends, I'm with my family and friends.
To clarify: I don't completely ignore everyone when I'm at work, for example! I focus on being present at work by: concentrating on the task at hand in limited blocks of time without any interruptions, and limiting the time I spend thinking about other things or messaging people back! (mandatory disclaimer so that Sarah doesn't dump me and my friends and family don't stop speaking to me!)
Being truly present is a rare thing, and I'm working hard to do this. It starts with little things: for example, when you're out with someone, at work or in your personal life, don't take your phone out and put it on the table - try leaving it in your pocket!
When you feel your mind wandering off, which does happens, notice this and just label your thoughts. E.g. when you're out with your partner and you start worrying about work, simply say internally, "that's a work thought". Don't react to it, just notice it. (I know this sounds very weird but it works for me!).
Stop looking at your phone. Stop worrying about what might happen. Stop obsessing over the past. And start living for now.
Let your mind wander at the right times; and notice and label it when it drifts off at the wrong times.
Make sure you are always present...in the present! I’d love to hear from you on this - what works for you? How do you stay focused and really present?
Kallum with a K
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