Last week I wrote about the pitfalls of focusing on the past or future and the benefits of living in the moment. This may be the only time you’ll read my blog encouraging you to do nothing. My tact in therapy and life is often to create a plan, establish goals, and take action, but living in the present often requires you to do nothing. Many of my clients are focused on “human doing” instead of “human being.” This concept may require some paradoxical thinking and stepping off the proverbial hamster wheel of life. When I encourage clients to spend 3-5 minutes a day doing nothing, being still, and taking a pause from life, they typically look at me funny and ask why? At which time I share the physical and psychological benefits of this exercise. Some might describe this as mindfulness, which is being focused on the present moment experience. One of experts in this area is Jon Kabat-Zinn who introduced meditation into mainstream medicine.
What else can I do to live in the present? Try breathing and being aware of the process as you inhale and exhale very slowly. Another suggestion is to think less and feel more. Many of us are frequently analyzing and critiquing ourselves or others throughout the day instead of being present-minded, which focuses on the experiences around you. Being accepting and non-judgmental of yourself and others helps with this process of remaining in the moment.
Lastly, we all like to be in control of our lives, but the paradox is often true. When we try too hard to control the future or obsess over the past we miss out on the precious present. Instead of trying to make it happen, we need to let it happen. Control is an illusion and acceptance of this will enable us to focus more on today. Sometimes, you must let go of what you have in order to find what you need.