Imagine that you’re currently speaking with a client right now and all you are thinking about is how you should have approached the customer in the morning differently. Imagine that you’re singing a song now and all you are thinking is what you’ll be eating later on at the Chinese restaurant. How will such situations make your present moment feel?
We lose the power of the moment because we’re so rarely in it. We’re reliving the past or speculating about the future. We are always thinking that the next moment or tomorrow, is another day and therefore another chance. We continue to believe that tomorrow’s the day when I’ll be more capable, more wealthy, more fit and more loving. Yes, correct, tomorrow is another chance, but why wait such a great chance right now? Meanwhile, I’m just putting in time, dreaming of better things but not making any concrete move to realize them.
In the example I gave right at the beginning, if you’re thinking about how you could have approached the customer better when you’re in the middle with a client, how will that make your session with the client go? You’ll lose your focus and bring about a sense of disconnection with your client and he/she may feel your focus move away. When you miss something, you find it hard to get back into it. Similarly, in the second example, you haven’t put full focus and energy into singing a beautiful song when your focus is partly on which type of noodles and rice you’ll have at the Chinese restaurant in the heart of Paris.
When you find yourself thinking of the future or the past, bring your awareness into the present moment. Really experience how you feel and what’s happening around you, without judgment. If we can treasure each moment, our lives will be rich, no matter what we have accomplished. Something a good friend told me about eight months ago is to consistently try and observe. Observe yourself when you’re talking, eating, presenting, bathing (and even try to when you’re sleeping!!). If you find yourself slipping out of the moment, consciously bring yourself to experience the moment for what it is.
I hear you ask, “but I have to think about my future at some point, don’t I?” Well, like everything, there’s two sides to the coin. Either forget about the future and live each moment for what it is so that it can automatically lead you into what life presents for you, or set aside time once a day, a week, a month (whatever works well for you) to just focus and think about your future. That is a moment in itself, so be totally focused. It wouldn’t be good to sit there thinking about your future and what you really want, while part of your mind wanders off to Shakespeare’s Romeo and Juliet theatrical performance that you’ll be attending tonight.
As we all know, it’s easier to type or speak than to take action. I found it really difficult when I started to fully focus. Playing an instrument has strengthened my ability to remain focused. I take time each week to consciously direct my thoughts for a few moments on my future and without getting sidetracked, it works well. Focus for smaller time segments, and as your experience builds up, increase your time length.
“How we spend our days is, of course, how we spend our lives.” – Annie Dillard