Wednesday, March 18, 2015

Live in the Present

In this moment, I am sitting at my favorite table surrounded by beautiful mountainscapes outside my window.  There are blossoms everywhere, pink, white, lending new life to the view which is mostly still waiting for spring to arrive.   I am finishing eating a delicious, healthy granola bar, and my critters (one cat, two dogs) are roaming about eating their breakfasts.  In this moment I am safe.  I am immovable from joy, I am grateful for life.

What happens when the moment you are in is NOT safe, or positive?  That will happen, likely many times in your life.  In all of the thousands of moments in your lifetime there will definitely be some that COULD pull you back, or down.  This post is about learning to live in the present.

We all know that we can't go back to the past.  That is a scientific fact.  We are rooted here...right the moment that we're living.  What can we do to improve this moment?  Here are some suggestions.  (Note that there are many similarities to my last post of learning from the past.

1.  Learn to quiet down any trauma or drama from the past.  Let go of any worries about the future.
2.  Visualization is a grand tool.  Imagine yourself sitting in the most comfortable of places (or go sit in the most comfortable of places).  Close your eyes and imagine how safe you feel right now, right here.  Breathe deeply in, and then out.  Count to ten as you breathe in, and ten as  you breathe out.  Do NOT hyperventilate, which would consist of taking breaths in and out that were too rapid.
3.  Write in your journal.  Focus on this moment.  Use your senses as you write.  What do you smell, see, hear, feel, taste?  Do not allow yourself to wander, stay focused on this one tiny moment in time. 
4.  Play music, sing at the top of your lungs.  (Please do not do this in a crowded place, or space).
5.  Call a friend that is supportive and loves you unconditionally.
6.  Create a safe space.  Make a space in your home where you feel protected, safe.

Why is living in the moment so important?  Life can be completely, absolutely overwhelming.  If that is not true for you...CONGRATULATIONS!  Most of the planet HAS experienced these overwhelming times.  It is much easier to find control, and feel peace, if life is handled one moment at a time.

On the Net Flicks TV situation comedy, "Unbreakable Kimmy," she is kidnapped and kept in a bunker under the ground for fifteen years.  She explains that she decided in that horrible place that she could do anything for 10 seconds.  So she would slowly count to ten, and then start counting again when she finished the first sequence of counting.  In this way she faced horrible things.

Most of us will never face being kidnapped, or kept in an underground bunker.  THANK GOODNESS.  At the same time this philosophy is very helpful.

My husband was in a horrendous car accident.  About five levels of the middle of his back were just turned to powder.  At one point on his back there was bone pressing on the spinal cord.  The good docs were astonished that the sharp bone had not severed his spine.

Extensive back surgery was performed to put his back together again.  The moment he began to become conscious from the surgery he was in agonizing pain.  They gave him lots of pain medicine but none of it worked.  For thirty-six hours he was in grinding, unrelenting agony. 

Finally one of the pain management docs found another medication that worked.  Then he slept for thirty-six hours.  It wasn't that the medicine took away all the pain.  It was that we all have certain limits of I can handle this, types of pain.  The medicine simply made his pain bearable.

Of this extremely difficult time he said, "I looked at the clock and thought to myself, 'I can handle this pain for one more moment.'  I got through that experience one moment at a time."

I just wrote about two extreme types of moments to live in and move beyond.  Here's a gentler moment.  It had been a frantic morning.  I had two darling little girls to get ready for school.  Their school was a half hours drive away.  I also had work.  So, in the process of feeding two cranky little girls, and helping them dress, and then getting myself ready we were all snappish, and genuinely grumpy.  In that moment I wanted to go back home, and all of us just go back to bed.

Instead, we sang a song together, quoted a scripture, and said a prayer.  (I did NOT close my eyes as I was driving to say a prayer.)  I was amazed at how that simple little experience changed all of our attitudes and made our day much brighter.

If organized religion is not your choice, sing a children's song, recite a poem, say a prayer.  Anyone can say a prayer, no matter what name they give to God.  This works if you are carting your children hither and yon.  It also works if you're alone, driving to work.  Let's face it, it's very important to start the moments of your day in a positive place.  When we start the day negatively, it rarely gets better from there.  So find a way to start the moments of your day in a positive place.

Is your moment, right now, right here, filled with sorrow, crisis, and difficulties?  Not every moment in our lives will be blissful.  We will no doubt have many hard, soul wrenching moments.  We can learn to thrive even in the hardest moments of our lives.

When my family was in a terrible accident, my niece and her husband picked me up and drove me to the hospital.  As we drove past the accident (the car was metal spaghetti, torn to pieces), in my mind I heard, "If you will be strong, this is a Master Class for you to learn about life."

The accident was horrible.  Our two daughters were left with permanent disability.  My husband came very, very close to death.  Yet within that terrible time there were bright moments of love.  Our neighbors across the street loaned me their family van so that I could get back and forth to the hospital.  Our car had been destroyed.  One of our nieces had a van that they had been planning to sell to help pay for a new van.  She felt impressed to hang on to that van.  It wasn't very much later that she gave it to us.  Men came and stayed with my hubby in the hospital so that I could go home and be with our girls sometimes.  (They were both adults, but even adults want their Mommies when they are hurt).

I learned about the bright love of human kindness.  Nyle and I were simple astounded at the outpouring of love from our families, and our church group.  Our oldest daughter was very close friends with a young married couple.  They came and lived with the girls for two weeks.  The girls were too sick to care for themselves, but not sick enough to be in the hospital.  I will be grateful always for those two dear young people.  They literally pushed their own concerns to the side to care for our girls.

So moments of bright joy right next to moments of dark sorrow.  The important thing to remember is that there is a choice.  We may choose the easiest path which is crippling sorrow.  Or we may stretch our souls as far as we can to find joy, even in the darkest of times.

My husband taught our daughters (and me as well) a phrase that he made up, "Happy Not Crappy."  That's a very simple phrase but what it means is that we do not have to let circumstances determine for us if we'll be happy or miserable.  We can make a conscious choice to find joy, or take the easy route and let the sorrow own us.

The next time you are faced with a "Master Class of Life," remember that you have a choice.  You can let the obvious sorrows and struggles bury you, or you can dig deep, stretch high, and be happy not crappy.

In this moment I challenge you to write down what makes you happy in this moment.  Even if it's something as simple as, "My breakfast was delicious."  or, "The view out of my window is breathtaking."  Find the things that bring you happiness, especially when it's not obvious, when it's really, really hard.

Remember, "Happy Not Crappy!"


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