17 Nov Living in the Now
One of the hardest parts of sobriety for me, personally, has been learning how to be living in the now; in the present and less in the past or the future.
I can spend hours worrying about what is going to happen two years or two months or two weeks from today, while I let the beauty of the present slip by without notice. This is a common issue for many of us in sobriety, we easily get lost in our past or our futures and forget to just be, to allow the gift that is the here and now to be the focus in our lives. Luckily there are many ways to help us live in the now, and by practicing staying present, we slowly but surely will come to do so naturally.
Meditate on the Now
Meditation is a really great way to focus on being present and not allow your mind to wonder down memory lane. Below are some key ways to stay present while meditating:
- Be very conscious of your thoughts – try to clear your mind of all chatter and focus on just being instead of thinking. Erase the worries about upcoming bills or job problems. Banish all thoughts from your brain leaving only room for what is right now in this moment.
- Keep breathing deeply and connect with your body to keep you present, focus on your breaths and how they make you feel, what parts of your body move with each breath.
- Listen to the sounds of your breathing, to the sounds around you. Feel the temperature, whether there is light shining on your face or if you are in shadow.
- Continue to feel your body and how it engages with the space it is in while you meditate. By consciously connecting with your body, you make it much easier for your mind to stay in the present because you are just experiencing what is at this moment in time, not worrying about what will be.
- If you find yourself suddenly lost in thought about future of past problems, take a deep breath, brush them aside, and again engage with the senses around you. Stay present. Stay focused.
Let go and Let God
Worrying about the future, also called “future tripping” can be a sign that we are not fully turning our will and our lives over to our higher power. If we constantly find ourselves stuck in the future and worrying about the what-ifs, this may be because we are still trying to run the show. We are attempting to dictate and micromanage our lives. If we trust in our higher power and let go of the control we are trying to exert, the future is no longer a source of constant concern. By acknowledging that the future is not up to us, we let go of the need to control it.
Living in the past has absolutely no benefit. Whether we are re-living traumas or desperately dreaming of what we could have done differently, nothing that we can do now will change what has already happened. In fact, by living more in the past than in the present, we not only do a disservice to ourselves by missing what is right now but we continually trudge up old hurts and traumas, which can be dangerous to our sobriety. Stop trying to change the past and instead focus on enjoying the now. The past is the past, and that is where it should stay.
Look for the Joy
Being a parent has also forced me to live more in the now and less in the what-ifs than anything else. My daughter doesn’t worry about what she is going to be doing tomorrow, she doesn’t stress about what she is going to cook for dinner next week or how she is going to find time to do x, y, and z. She finds joy in everything. She delights in each moment, treats each minute as a whole new chance for something amazing to happen…and we have to learn to do the same. We have to find the beauty that is right in front of us, appreciate the things that are here and now. Find beauty in how the sunlight feels on your face. Delight at the smell of fresh cookies baking in an over, or the feel of a warm shower beating on your back. Listen to a friend talk and really hear their words instead of wondering what meanings are behind them. These are all great ways to stay present and focused. It is so easy to get lost in the past and the future, but the present is where we all belong.