Meditating on this very moment
This is it. Today is the day. The only thing that really matters right now is this. very. moment. I'm serious. What a strange strange thing, huh? Here we are often living in a state of consistent delusion - thinking about the past, and/or planning for the future.
It's not bad that we do this, necessarily, but being lost in thought guarantees that we miss the present moment. We get stressed out by reliving things that are we can't change or fretting over things that may not even happen in the future. Instead, if we try, we can find fulfillment and ease in a mindful moment. Even this very moment.
I recently taught a workplace wellness session where I shared with the group that the only thing they had to focus on was this exact breath. This very moment of inhale...then the effortless feeling of exhale.
Try it for a second, close your eyes and take a breath in, and a breath out. Can you feel that one breath? Sometimes it's hard for me to even feel half of an inhale before my mind is gone. Way gone. The group afterwards shared that it was an incredible experience to try to feel just one breath at a time. Some shared they'd never heard of such a thing. And that it was a new technique they were going to work on. Living in the present moment, breathing in the present moment actually gives us permission to be mindful of how life is unfolding. To feel what we feel. To tune in, without distorting what's actually happening.
The magic thing I've learned about that distortion, however, is that it's not that we've been reaching into the past or future, it's what you do in that split second once you realize it's happened that counts. Oh man does it count.
It doesn't matter really if you meditate peacefully for 20 minutes or 2 seconds before your mind starts to spin out. Maybe you start thinking about what you're going to eat for dinner, or you remember something stupid you did at work, or you worry about that upcoming wedding on the other side of the country that you still need to buy plane tickets for...and you start planning how to best price compare flights. Or how to pit credit cards with free miles against one another. And you wonder if your TSA Precheck status will stay with you into 2016....and you start thinking about how annoying it would be to go through the normal lanes and have to take out your laptop and take off your shoes when you fly. Man you hate taking off your shoes at the airport...and then you realize HOLY HELL...you've been gone. WAY gone.
That is the magic moment of meditation.
What do you do then? What do you say to yourself? You have 2 options:
Option 1 sounds something like this:
'danggit, Joanna! What is wrong with you??? You've only been meditating for 2 minutes and your mind is already spinning out. Why are you so bad at concentrating? Arg you get distracted SO easily these days. I'm so sick of this happening ALL the time. You'll never be able to concentrate. And you TEACH meditation for goodness sakes. What the heck. This stinks. You stink.'
Option 2 sounds something like this:
'Ok. Whoa. That was interesting. It's OK though. It's perfectly natural and now I can come back to the breath. So just feel the gentle inhale. Now here's the sensation of the exhale. Rest in the breath. Everything is OK, and I can begin again with this new breath. Easy inhale, natural exhale. Good job. Feel the breath'
Which do you choose? Admittedly, sometimes Option 1 comes up. But it's OK. This is a practice. We're always learning, growing, transforming. The incredible power comes though when we realize we can choose. And not only with our meditation practice but also in life. If we slip up and down half a pan of brownies, if we drink waaaay to much at that work event and feel terrible the next day, if we miss a workout...or a whole week (/month/year) of working out, if we find ourselves wasting 90 minutes in an instagram 'hole' it's OK. Really.
What's not OK is guilt. It's completely unhelpful and does't improve our chances of finding the present moment again in the future. Chastising ourselves gets us nowhere fast. The most beautiful, powerful thing we can do is accept ourselves, accept the good, the bad, the ugly. Forgive and forget and constantly, consistently, and lovingly, begin again. Then, and only then, can we begin to rest, enjoy, and live in the present.
For a few laughs about when 'then becomes now' click here - especially pay attention 40 seconds in :)