What is living in the now? Athletes and sportspeople call it “the zone,” or “being in the flow,” those moments when everything on the field of play goes perfectly, almost without thought or planning. Artists describe moments where they are in a creative bubble, inspired by new ideas and thoughts, almost undisturbed by the outside world.
But what does “Living in the Now” mean to us in our everyday lives? Is it even possible to live in the moment all the time with our daily stresses and distractions? What about our concerns and fears for the future, or the pain from our past that continuously pulls us back to those times?
We can never return to the past. The future doesn’t actually exist!
The truth is, we can only ever live everyday of our lives in the Now. It is the only point in time that actually exists. Try for a moment to physically take yourself back in time, or transport yourself into the future. Try right now to live in any other time but the present. Come on, give it a go…
So if we cannot physically be in any other time but the present moment of now, why do we find it so difficult to live our lives this way. A wise woman once explained to me that living in the moment is not living as though “this is your last day on earth,” but rather that “this is the only moment that really exists.”
Let’s do an exercise for 60 seconds. Close your eyes…OK, read this first before you close your eyes…Imagine that just for this finite period of time, this short 60 seconds of your life, that the future beyond each second that you are in does not actually exist. There is no tomorrow, or next week, or even the next minute. It is just you, sitting in this moment, with your own heart beat, your breath. The past has already happened, and there are no consequences. Just give yourself that 60 seconds…
What did that feel like? How did your thoughts flow? Was it actually possible to have anxiety without a future? Was it possible to feel pain or sadness without the past? The experience for many would have been a moment of respite and peace. But the second ones eyes open, “reality” returns. Anxiety about deadlines, money, relationships come flooding back, or memories of lost love, traumas and failures seep back into our thoughts.
In theory, living your life like this is possible, but neither probable nor desirable for most (unless your dream is to be a Zen Monk). To live life with more freedom, creativity, joy and fulfillment IS desirable by many. This is what I mean by living in the Now.
“I am an old man and have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” – Mark Twain >
The aim of living in the Now, is the aim of living emotionally in the moment to the best of your abilities and capabilities. It is being free of our past trauma, sadness, failure and pain. It is being released of all the fears and worries of the future. Living in the Now is living with the freedom of choice; choice in how we get to feel, act and think in every moment. It is not reacting bound by past experiences. It is not preparing for the worst, so as not to be disappointed. It is preparing ourselves for the best opportunity to live each moment for what it truly is.
The less we are bound to the negative emotional aspects of our past, the less time we spend in the past. The less we catastrophize about the future, the less time we spend in the future. And the more we work on and release these limiting aspects of our lives, the more we begin to live with the increased levels of joy, fulfillment, creativity, love and peace – in the moment we call Now!