One of my favorite authors and spiritual teachers, Eckhart Tolle, says, “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life.” It is good to be reminded of that because many of our thoughts are not in the present…
We are thinking about things we have to do in the future. I need to buy food… take the car in for an oil change… send Kim a birthday card… and what I’m going to say to James about how he made me feel… oh no, I forgot to pay the cell phone bill… it’s going to be snowing tomorrow and driving will be miserable!
Many of our thoughts drift back to the past. If only I hadn’t said yes to being on this committee… I’m glad I got the chance to hang out with my cousin… that was such a fun bike ride… why didn’t I say hi to that attractive guy… I can’t believe I ate that much…
While some of these thoughts are positive and peaceful, many are not. Many are anxious, resentful, critical and stressful.
Now is all that matters. It’s all you have. Now is when you can be happy.
Since you can’t undo the past, can you learn from it? Can you consciously decide, “I’m not going to repeat that?” Can you be happier now, just by having made that decision?
Now what about the future?
Just do what you can right now by giving your mind directions. Instead of worrying that summer is coming and you’re going to have a hard time losing weight again and at the same time unconsciously giving in to the habit of reaching for an extra slice of pizza, become more conscious of what you’re thinking right now, that is creating your future through emotions, words and actions (whether they are conscious or not).
To be happier now, bring your thoughts home. Here. Now. Pay attention to what’s going on around you. What urges are you having NOW? Are they serving you well? What alternative choices do you have? Are you willing to make those choices, now?
What are your feelings, now? What can you do, right now, to feel better?
What are you thinking about, now? What can you imagine, right now, about your future, that will make that future better? In other words, what directions can you give your mind right now?
It takes awareness. In meditation, pay attention to your thoughts. Just observe them as they come and go – you can say “Next!” once you’re aware of a thought and you feel yourself getting involved in it. Then watch the next thought float up. And the next.
Observe your patterns and where your mind is going. Later, think about those patterns. If they’re full of regret about the past, what can you do NOW to ensure that you won’t repeat the scenario? If they’re full of worry, what can you think NOW to prompt your brain to seek the resources to create a different future?
Remember, you can use the tracks Creative Flow and Optimal Learning to help you be more in the now while working, creating, cooking and other day to day tasks. When your thoughts start to wander off to the future or past, let the music bring you back to here and now, where you can choose happiness and create the future you want by becoming aware of your thoughts, and changing the ones that drive unwanted behaviors.