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Wednesday, 19 January 2011 09:13

Wish I Were Here

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"Having a great time. Wish I were here". I saw this quote on a postcard a long time ago and it always stuck with me. How often are you at a party, going about your daily life, or even on vacation (!), but you are not really there? Perhaps you are still in yesterday thinking about the fight you had with your best friend or maybe you are in tomorrow worrying about your big presentation. I know I should be mindful and live in the present, but it is actually more difficult than it sounds, isn't it? We have so many demands on our time, it is hard not to be thinking about the future and all that needs to be done. And we're human, so ruminating about what happened in the past seems to come naturally to us too. How can we get it to feel more natural to just be in this moment?

Try it now. As you are reading this blog, recognize that you are taking the time and reading a blog. Notice where you are sitting, how your body is feeling, what sounds you hear. Read the words on the page and just be in the moment of reading. You have decided to take time out to read this blog (thank you), so fully be with this blog for the next few minutes. Mindfulness is about being conscious of the present moment in all that you do, to fill your body's senses with what you are experiencing at the present moment. Test it out a few times a day. You can do it anytime. For example, when you are washing the dishes, just be washing the dishes. Feel the water on your hands, appreciate the view from your kitchen window, and enjoy the sounds of the children playing in the background. The beauty of mindfulness is that it can be done anywhere and anytime. It is at our disposal whenever we want to try it out. And, the more we do it, the more we encourage our health and wellness.

There are times when I am doing an activity like running a marathon or driving fast at a race school where I have no choice but to be in the present. If I'm not present, I won't finish the marathon and I will likely crash the car. Can you think of a time when this happens for you? Is it skiing or riding a roller coaster? I love moments like this because I realize that I am completely, unabashedly in the moment. Doing this while I'm going about my daily life is definitely more challenging because my mind gets in the way.

Living mindfully helps us live healthier in all four quadrants of our lives. It leads to a healthier Mind because you are not spending mental energy rehashing things in the past or worrying about things in the future (that may or may not happen). You have no control over these events, so why not enjoy the now? It reminds me of a part of the Serenity Prayer which says, "Grant me the serenity to accept the things I cannot change, courage to change the things I can, and wisdom to know the difference". You cannot change the past or the future so we might as well live in the present which we do have control of.

Living in the present certainly helps nourish the Body because it means you will be mindful of what you eat which likely leads to healthier choices and portion control. When you eat mindfully, you are paying attention to the texture, smell, and taste of your food. You will also be paying more attention to how your body feels. Your body sends you signals all the time, but with all of the other noise that is not in the present competing for attention, we often don't hear the signals. If your body feels tired, try to get some rest. If a certain part of your body feels strained, spend time stretching.

Living in the present can help in your Relationships too because you will be fully present with your friends and family. You will be truly listening to what they are saying because your mind is not elsewhere. This will help to form deeper connections. And living mindfully helps in the Environment realm as well because when you are in nature, you will fully appreciate its beauty by paying attention to your engaged senses. You might also pay more attention to the products you use in your home and on your body, thus becoming more aware of the potential toxins in your environment. Mindfulness encourages health in all four quadrants. It puts you on the path to an integral life of health and wellness.

Eckhart Tolle in The Power of Now says that the present moment is where we find our joy and are able to embrace our true selves. He says it is here that we discover we are already complete and perfect. The beauty is that this is fully in our reach. We just have to simply be. Here. Now.

Next time I'm having a great time, I plan to be there. How about you?

At the finish line of my first marathon, Oct 2005. I love this photo because
it truly captures
one occasion where I was having a great time and I was there.

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Published Articles

Green Exercise: Good for the Sole and Soul
Natural Awakenings, March 2011

Sustainable Danville Area: Find Your People
Danville Today News, February 2012 (Page 6)

Are Genetically Modified Foods Making Your Child Sick?
Active Kids, June 2012 (Page 23)