Looking into the fog in front of me across the field, my view is obstructed. I don’t know what lies ahead, all I can see or know is where I am right now. As I walk into what from a distance seemed like a mass of whiteness, items close around me are clearer. I see the corn stalks and the hillside because I now look at the place where I am – not off into the future or past worried about what is there. My current path is clear. And so it is with my thoughts.
Being present brings the truth about what you can and cannot change and what is happening at this time. Thoughts of past or future events and all the stories that our imaginations can conjure are just that – only fog-like stories.
To be present with yourself and pay attention is a way of showing tenderness to yourself, to others, and to the world as Pema Chodron writes in the book, The Places that Scare You, a Guide to Fearlessness in Difficult Times. She states that, “There is no doubt that our fantasy world can be very juicy and seductive. So we train in using a “soft” effort when interrupting our habitual patterns; in other words, we train in cultivating self-compassion”.
What might training in self-compassion look like?
- Challenge your thoughts. Are they absolutely true? Might another thought be as true or truer and kinder for you?
- Acknowledge your anxiety or fear about the future or past story that you are telling yourself and gently set it aside.
- Schedule daily quiet, alone time – even just five minutes to reflect on what you are grateful for in this moment and write it down. Be it your breath, a child’s smile, or the warmth of the sunshine.
- Nature can have a very powerful and calming effect. I find that time outside observing all of the gifts of nature pulls me immediately into the present, loosening the strength of my imagination and any fearful stories.
You have the power to make the choice to focus on enjoying what you can see, feel, hear, or otherwise experience right now. It is a skill that you can practice developing each day and one that will help you to live each moment to the fullest.