It's an amazingly cool day in May. Only three days ago it was 97 degrees and we were all splashing around in freezing Lake Huron. If you ask me what kind of weather I prefer I'll usually refer to the weather that is going on right at that moment.
On Monday I looooved a hot summer beach day. Today, my favorite kind of day is one that calls for sweaters and hot tea and stories. In the deep darkness of winter, no day is better than a cold snapping freezy day, or a snowed in day, or a February thaw day.
In Autumn, soggy, still, misty days are the best and sunny, crisp, leaf blowing, golden orange days, too.
Likewise, my favorite part of life is usually what I'm living right now, even if by all objective standpoints, this phase of life should be terrible, I always feel deep down inside as though it is the very best living I've ever done.
I do worry over the future, though, and I do spend a great deal of time trying to mend the brokenness of my past. I have to remind myself that the present is where it's at.
Right here in the present is where I create happiness. When I dwell in the present, I can really experience the love of my family, soak in the moments of silence and gratitude, or revel in the beauty all around me.
If I'm spending my energy on anything other than what is in front of me right this moment I am missing out on the joy that is living in the now, and the opportunity to set myself up for more joy in the future--even during difficult times.
If you find yourself having a hard time living in the present, here are a few things that helped me to really, deeply tune in when I was starting really shift the way I experience my life about six months ago:
1) Embrace that right now is all we really have. Tomorrow isn't here yet and yesterday is gone. Our memories and dreams, they're happening right now in our minds. If we want to heal our past or work toward a beautiful future, that all has to happen in the present moment, too. Ask yourself, how can I best use this moment to create more of what I really want in my life?
2) Understand that the future is not set in stone. It comes to us as we expect it. When we worry about tomorrow we are planning for what we don't want to happen. We are expecting, albeit hoping, and maybe even begging, that our fears won't become reality, but we are investing our energy in negativity.
If you shift all of that worrying energy into, say, gratitude, imagine how your world could change.
"I am so grateful that every single day gets better and better."
"I am so grateful that every day brings so many moments of growth."
"I am so grateful for these reminders of my humanity, and for the reminders that I can rely on Spirit to support and to provide."
"I am getting better at being a human being every single day thanks to all of the support I am getting from the people and from the Spirit around me."
The world is like a great big mirror reflecting back to us what we put into it.
You reap what you sow.
I have a friend who used to say to me, "You're so lucky, and I'm just not." Truth be told, I don't really believe in luck.
I believe in expectation (or faith) and acceptance and acknowledgement.
I expect, or have faith, that answers will be given to me.
I accept that I must act on those answers, and I accept the beautiful outcome of those actions.
I acknowledge that I am human, and I don't always get it right, and I acknowledge that when it does go right, I have not succeeded alone.
Living is an act of creation. We create in the present moment all the time. There is no such thing as past and future. There is only now, memory, hopes and dreams. The future is what we build it to be and how we respond to the unexpected.
3) Know that the past is over. Do what you need to do to release it. Feel the feelings you need to feel. Look the fears you may be carrying in the face, and then release them.
When we do these things, we give ourselves the opportunity to be deeply rooted in the present. When we are deeply rooted in the present, when we are attune to what is going on within us and around us, we are creating an environment of healing and security for ourselves. One in which we can begin to live to our highest potential each and every moment.
I had a vision during meditation once, in which my family tree was up on this huge altar. It was towering and threatening. Its roots mangled and ensnared mine. Its branches stole all of my sunlight.
Just when I was feeling as powerless as I possibly could, its trunk, branches, and leaves burst into stardust that showered me with inspiration and energy, and its roots melted into a primordial sap that began to nourish my growth and feed my soul.
It was a great, liberating moment that taught me many things. One of those was how to process the past. The past becomes a compost of nutrients, or a sky full of stardust, or a nourishing undercurrent to sink your roots into when it is allowed to dissolve. It cannot tie us up or over-shadow us unless we give it the power to do so.
Either in feeding us or in towering over us, the past is an imagined thing in the present. Like a story it sinks into our skin and shapes who we are, but when the story is over we get to chose what we believe or don't believe. We get to chose what we carry into the present.
If there are things coming up from your past that are getting in the way of living in the present, I would encourage you to sit with them in meditation. Just sit with the feelings you feel about those events, or that span of time. Feel what you are feeling right now and slowly allow it to dissolve. Release it with a blessing. Remind yourself if it get's overwhelming that you are not who you once were, and that what you experienced then exists only in your mind now. You are safe.
When past and future are put in their proper place, which takes some practice, being in the present becomes a way of life. Mindfulness becomes more achievable as does a deeper connection to one's own spirit and to the spirit that transcends oneself.
It has made my life so much more rich to practice being present to each moment.
When I am in alignment with the present I feel aligned with my true self, and THAT is when insight and direction comes. It's like finding the Holy Grail.
Anna Turner is the woman behind Little Hearth. She's an ordained interfaith minister, a writer, a believer in purposeful living and healing, a perpetual student, and a full time feminist mother.