Ever find yourself thinking about the future? What about working through all of those stupid, idiotic things you did in the past?
Like most people you probably spend an inordinate amount of time engaging with fantasies about what might happen or dissecting the hows, whys and wherefores of your history. This is normal, this is what humans do.
What does this cost you when you do this? It costs you your life.
F**k It Therapy
There’s a great opening to the book F**k It Therapy: The Profane Way to Profound Happiness*. John Parkin talks about how he introduces his retreats to the participants who are all there to find IT.
Like so many of us, his participants talk to him about their belief that once they have found IT they can at last be happy. Parkin states:
“This is IT. Me writing this. You reading this is IT. You getting up and pouring a glass of water is IT. Getting up in the morning is IT, going to the bathroom is IT, having breakfast …is IT.”
That’s contact with the present moment summed up nicely – noticing the IT that you have now and appreciating that it’s the only IT that you will ever have.
Why have contact with the present moment?
When you’re in contact with the present moment you get to experience your life for what it is and not what your mind says it is.
Have a crack at this experiment. I want you to describe to me how to walk. Think that you can do it? Start now, what do you tell me to do first?
Chances are, that if you are like me and everyone I’ve ever tried this with, your mind was arrogant enough to believe it could do this. The reality is that words are not enough.
Think back to how you learnt to walk. My guess is that you can’t remember because you did it without language. You learnt whilst in contact with the present moment.
Your Mum or whoever brought you up didn’t sit you down and say “right dear, it’s time to learn to walk. Now raise your body up and take your left foot …”.
You had to connect with the moment, fall flat on your arse, get up again and have another go. You did this over and over until viola! You are bipedal!
Life’s like that
The same can be said for the rest of your life. Your mind can tell you that you are in all sorts of a mess. It can tell you that thoughts are important and feelings are dangerous, but what do you know from experience?
As you have contact with the present moment my guess is you notice that things aren’t as terrible as your mind says they are. You get to notice that having feelings doesn’t actually kill you. This creates the wiggle room for you to carry out behaviour that takes you towards what’s important. You get to live a life connected to your values.
How do you have contact with the present moment?
Your breath is a powerful and ever present anchor to the here and now. When you find yourself spinning off into the future or falling down the big black shitty hole of the past then breathe.
You can do this anywhere. You don’t need to do any big hippy lotus position bendy leg action (though you can if you want). Just be where you are, sitting or standing, lying down if that suits and notice your breath going in and out of your body.
Some people find it useful to count the breaths because it gives the mind something to do whilst you are connecting with the now, a bit like throwing a naughty puppy a dog chew – keeps them occupied.
This is a skill and like any skill it takes a bit of practice so go with whatever happens and notice if your mind tells you you’re doing it wrong (thanks for that mind).
Be here now
By being more present in your life you get to decide what you do and you get to feel better. As you learn to connect with your feelings you will teach yourself, from experience, that feelings aren’t so dangerous after all. This makes it easier to live a rich fulfilling life and notice what’s important.
Want to learn how to do this with support?
Come work with me at my counselling centre in Wilmslow, Cheshire. Just a few sessions will move you on and give you a bit of support in learning all of this stuff. If you are interested phone me on 07966 390857 or use the contact form to get in touch.