Just how easy is it to live in the present? I had begun thinking about this a few weeks ago.
It’s easy to be in the present when things are good—when there’s no family/friend drama, when you enjoy your job, when you’re in a healthy relationship, when you can be on parent autopilot. But what about when life is hard? We want out as soon as possible. We want to go back to when things were easy. We look ahead to when life will be good again, indeed, hoping it will be good again. Then, only then, will we go back to living in the present.
How do we live in the present but not hold on to the present? How do we cope with the highs and lows of life so that we can enjoy the highs, but feel prepared for and learn how to get through the lows?
A few weeks ago, I made a goal to ‘live in the calm.’ By living in the calm, I hope to gain a better awareness of my present situation and to not get too attached to the easy moments in life, but also to not fall into the trap of thinking the more challenging, stressful moments are going to last forever.
Life is always changing, ebbing and flowing, growing and shifting, and by living in the calm, my goal is to accept things as they come and live presently through them.
Trust me, this is a lot easier said than done, and I’m constantly learning how I can develop a better understanding of achieving this type of presence.
I do have a few steps that have helped me find my calm when I need it most.
As often as possible, I meditate for at least ten minutes in the morning. As a work-from-home mom with a nine month old, fitting this in can be difficult. In order for it to happen, I have to manage my time extremely well and remain focused.
After I put my daughter down for her first nap, I jump in the shower. When I get out, every minute counts. If I pick up my phone and get stuck in a social media hole, I can kiss my ten minutes of zen goodbye. But if I stay on task and allow my mind and myself the ten minutes of nothingness, I find that the rest of my day flows with greater ease.
For me, meditation helps establish a sense of presence. If I’ve had a hard night, it’s easier to leave that hard night in the past and not bring it into the present moment. But if the day is already hard, meditation helps me feel a calm present, a feeling I try to carry with me throughout the day. If the day is hard, I am prepared to ride it out without letting it wear me out.
Anxieties and frustrations are common and take many forms. When I feel these emotions creeping up, rather than allow them to take over me I begin to chant either out loud or in my head while breathing deeply.
I usually say “I am calm, I am at ease” over and over and over and over again. After a minute or two of doing this, I find that my emotions completely level out. I find a sense of restorative calm grounded in the present.
Often, we’re not able to just drop everything to meditate or repeat calming chants. Sometimes we’re in the grocery store or at the office. I try to find time when I can, where I am. If I’m walking or driving, I’ll repeat certain mantras in my head. If you’re at work, step outside for a few minutes or find a more private space where you can re-establish yourself in the present moment.
I find that even repeating a simply mantra for a couple minutes helps me remain calm when life beings to overwhelm.
In the past, I equated accepting a difficult situation with giving up. Why accept the present when the present isn’t how you want it to be? Are we supposed to just throw in the towel like that? Why not work to change what you don’t like?
I am constantly striving to better myself and my life, so learning how to accept a painful or difficult present has been my greatest challenge.
I’ve come to learn that acceptance is not a positive action (acceptance as approval) nor is it a negative one (acceptance as defeat). Simply (or not so simply) by accepting a situation for what it is allows the mind to be present and calm.
Motherhood has taught me more about myself than I could have ever imagined. The past nine months have been nothing less than a rollercoaster of emotions, pep talks, sleep-deprivation and life lessons and I know this is only the beginning. By committing to a lifelong practice of ‘living in the calm’, I hope to meet the future challenges with grace and ease.
ASHLEY WOOD is a recipe developer and writer from Winnipeg, Canada. With a passion for health, wellness and vegetables, Ashley creates simple and inexpensive vegan recipes made from whole ingredients that are often seasonal, sometimes gluten-free and occasionally raw. Ashley believe in celebrating the benefits of living a vegan lifestyle and at the very least, hopes to inspire others to eat more plants, smile and live with some Sunshine.