The present moment has immense power. It’s where we gain clarity. It’s where we experience gratitude for whatever and whomever is creating joy and meaning in our lives. It’s where we choose how to respond to pain. It’s where we turn our ideas and intentions into action. When we are firmly aware of the present moment we have more ability to shape the direction of our lives, which is full of endless possibilities.
“I am tomorrow, or some future day, what I establish today. I am today what I established yesterday or some previous day.” – James Joyce
It’s easy to forget about the power of the present moment, after all, we’re having one every damn second of our lives. The power isn’t necessarily about finding meaning in everything you’re doing all of the time, like brushing your teeth or shopping for meals (although when you start paying attention to everyday actions you may find gratitude and inspiration in the strangest places). It’s about tuning out the narrative of your past and the scripting of your potential future, and discovering what comes to the surface when your mind is quiet and able to notice.
“The truth is, of course, is that there is no journey. We are arriving and departing all at the same time.” – David Bowie
If you’re good at bringing awareness to the present moment, keep it up. If you’re new to it or need new strategies, here’s a few to get you started.
Ground Yourself in the Here and Now
There is a practice for everyone out there that will place you directly in the present moment. Follow a guided meditation, concentrate on your breathing, check in intentionally with your body and surroundings, find a task, sport, or hobby that creates a bubble of silent focus around you (yoga, running, chopping vegetables, latch-hooking, etc). Try a bunch out until you find what works for you.
The goal here isn’t to obliterate all thoughts, it’s to quiet your mind and bring awareness to what you are experiencing. Repeating your practice frequently will grow your ability to respond mindfully, instead of reacting emotionally, to events in your life.
Pause and Ponder
Develop a set of questions or prompts that help you see how you’re showing up, right now, in your life (without the pressure to do anything about it). For instance,
- Your level of engagement in your primary job – be it a career, gig, hobby, or life situation
- Where you’re feeling challenged to grow, where you’re feeling comfortable, where you’re feeling distress
- The connection you’re experiencing with your family, friends, and partner (romantic or non)
- Your thoughts, feelings, and actions when you’re in a difficult situation, and when you’re in one that feels great (to get an objective point of view pretend that you’re watching yourself on a movie screen)
We’re wired to keep the stories of our past alive, and to constantly mull over the happiness or dread that potentially awaits us in the future. While we can learn a lot from those mental and emotional exercises, too much past or future noise can skew our perspective and cause us to operate from a narrower version of the truth. Shifting more energy into what is happening in the present moment offers us greater understanding, freedom, and joy. Find a way to connect with it and see what it changes in your life.
À la Carte
Find links here to unrelated yet thought-provoking content that has caught our attention. Order it, share it with a friend, or skip it to save room for info you really want to digest.
Videos – average 3 minute duration
A few years ago, Canon Australia launched a photography project called “The Lab,” in which they devised experiments that challenged photographers to think about their craft in a creative way. They all provoke thought and inspiration on universal themes, including creating something from nothing, realizing how our assumptions affect our perception of others, and finding empathy through personal reflection. Each Lab is filmed so you can see the whole narrative of the experiment, click here to view them all.
This one is centered on imagination, and the challenge of creating “an image for a client who sees the world from a completely different perspective.” The piece is a springboard for all sorts of other ideas to explore. What pops up for you?