“Live as if you were to die tomorrow.
Learn as if you were to live forever.
The first seven steps are powerful tools for change that will bring you into balance with your natural well-being. By introducing these steps into your life and using them as your guide, you will see real changes in your ability to deal with inevitable challenges, both big and small, as well as in the strength and vitality of your body and mind. This progress leads to being able to overcome stress and live fully.
We live in an age of distraction. We’ve all experienced it: the Pavlovian reflex at the sound of a new email, half-listening to conference call or or half-present during a meeting while reading an IM, text, BBM or tweet from elsewhere. Its become more difficult than ever in this day and age to moderate distraction and cultivate an awareness in the present moment.
Life unfolds in the present. But so often, we let the present slip away, allowing time to rush past unobserved, and allowing the precious moments of our lives waste away as we worry about the future and contemplate the past. We’re always doing something, and we allow little time to practice stillness and calm. When we’re at work, we fantasize about being on holiday. And while on holiday we worry about the work piling up on our desks.
Most of us don’t take heed to our thoughts in awareness. Rather we allow our thoughts to control us. But in order to feel more in control of our minds and our lives, to find the sense of balance that eludes us, we need to step out of this current, to pause, and, rest in stillness. In short, we need to stop doing and focus on just being.
We need to live more in the moment. Living in the moment—also called mindfulness—is a state of active, open, intentional attention on the present. When you become mindful, you realize that you are not your thoughts; you become an observer of your thoughts from moment to moment without judging them. Mindfulness involves being with your thoughts as they are, neither grasping at them nor pushing them away. Instead of letting your life go by without living it, you awaken to experience.
Mindful people are happier, more exuberant, more empathetic, and more secure. They have higher self-esteem and are more accepting of their own weaknesses. Anchoring awareness in the here and now reduces the kinds of impulsivity and reactivity that underlie depression, binge eating, and attention problems. Mindful people can hear negative feedback without feeling threatened. They fight less with their romantic partners and are more accommodating and less defensive. As a result, mindful couples have more satisfying relationships.
Following are a few of the pointers you will find in Stress Pandemic, Step 8: The Power of Awareness:
Practice the first seven steps and commit to them fully.
As you discover more ease and health in your life, allow yourself to embrace the present moment, enjoying fully what life has to offer, here and now.
Notice when your awareness is unnecessarily on the past or the future, and gently bring it back to this very moment.
Become aware of what you are holding on to, and see if you can begin to forgive yourself; to love yourself.
Living in the present is the ultimate result of freeing yourself from stress: however, it cannot be forced. Living in the present arises naturally as you develop a healthy way of life and deal with psychological habits that keep you in a plce of stress. In time, your whole attitude toward many aspects of life will change for the better, and you won’t be dependent on sorting issues out from your past, or looking toward something in the future to bring you happiness.
If you are able to bring your awareness back to the present moment, you can fully experience life in the here and now. Eventually you will be able to love yourself fully, which comes from the willingness to fully forgive yourself and embrace the present moment. Become aware of being alive. And breathe. As you draw your next breath, focus on the rise of your abdomen on the in-breath, the stream of heat through your nostrils on the out-breath. If you’re aware of that feeling right now, as you’re reading this, you’re living in the moment. Nothing happens next. It’s not a destination. This is it. You’re already there.