Start enjoying it now before it’s too late.
Last week on a hike with my wife and my 4 1/2 month old daughter, we stopped for a moment to look up at a cliffside. The cliff had some bushes that were falling from a small mudslide, most of the land was scree from multiply mudslides, there was some small charred trees from a past fire, a few sage bushes which are native here, and oh so much more. Interestingly enough, I’ve been up and down that trail hundreds of times and never stopped to take in that moment. And now, I look forward to taking in every moment possible with my new little daughter. There is a great sense of elation when I can block out everything else in the world and pay full attention to a particular moment. Kids make it easy to do it, but it’s a practice for us adults.
Mindfulness is all the rage these days and rightly so, it’s about time. As a society, we’ve been distracted for a long time and it’s only getting worse. I’m just as guilty here as anyone else. I’ve interrupted conversations because of a ping on my phone or even a passer by. And as my wife let’s me know on a regular basis, it simply shows that whomever I’m talking with just became less important. That’s not a great message at all, in fact, it’s down right rude.
I’ve been meditating for over 20 years and practicing yoga for just under that. Those practices have definitely helped me get present more easily than if I was solely focused on my thinking or my to do list. That’s one of the things that all that inner work has taught me: the ability to focus and block out everything else that’s happening. I’m not perfect by any means, but spending time in nature sure helps.
I love listening to the birds, hearing the wind through the trees, rustling in the bushes. All of it keeps me in the moment. There are a few practices that help me stay in the moment and they’re pretty simple actually. The next time you’re feeling stressed or distracted remember these:
Pay Attention to Your Breathing
It’s a classic Buddhist meditation, you follow the inhale and feel what happens to your body. Then pause for just a moment before you exhale. Pay attention to the rise and fall of your diaphragm and the expansion and contraction of your rib cage. Notice the temperature of the air as it comes into your body through your nose or your mouth, then feel the difference as it leaves. It’s warm inside you and there is a difference when you breathe.
So many of us immediately hit the ground running when we wake up and then crash by the time we hit our bed at night. Take those small moments in between and soak up the amazement of life. The other day I spent some time working at Pepperdine University. It’s a beautiful campus here in town with incredible ocean views. Before my friend and I went in to work, we stopped for just a minute to take it all in. It took virtually no time at all, but the benefit of pausing and taking in the beauty of our surroundings lasted the entire afternoon. It put me in a state of gratitude for the rest of the day.
Today is a World Record
I love holding on to this thought, it’s quite simple, but just reminding yourself that you’ve made it another day! You’ve never been in the situation you’re in before EVER. There is a freshness, they call it Beginner’s Mind in the Zen tradition. No situation is exactly the same. There are subtle differences, we’re always changing, other people are always changing, so there is always something new and fresh to experience. The old adage, you cannot step in the same river twice, explains it best. Every moment only happens once. When it’s gone, it’s gone forever. It’s time to start enjoying those moments before it’s too late and you look back at your life wishing you had.
Remember to take in the simple things and don’t take anything for granted. Not your breath, not your heart beat, not your family, colleagues, friends, or enemies. It’s time we start respecting the gift that life is and all the miraculousness it has to offer. Smell the roses, and take in the hibiscus. Today only happens once, make the best of it. I’m always here is you need help. @teddymcdonald
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