Life is a subjective endeavor. When it comes to reality, there is what is happening right now... and that is it. The entirety of our life experience takes place right here in the present moment. Everything else is just our personal interpretation of what's going on. Yes, we have memories of present moments gone by and expectations about future moments that have yet arrive but, let's face it, these only exist as thought forms inside our heads. The present moment is all that there is- all we can do is choose to accept it or reject it. Knowing this, it is more important than ever to be conscious of the way that we react internally to what is happening around us. Our unconscious tendency to resist the present moment is one of the leading causes of stress in the modern world. Here are some ways we can move away from a state of chronic resistance and into a state of acceptance.
1. Watch your expectations. One of the most common reasons to reject the present moment is because it does not measure up to the perfect moment that you conjured up earlier in your imagination. Be careful of perfectionism because it sets you up for failure every time. Life isn't always perfect, sometimes there are errors, flaws, and unforeseen circumstances which occur despite your best intentions. However, just because something goes wrong on the outside doesn't mean that something has to go wrong on the inside as well. Better to accept imperfection and stay calm and balanced within than to resist imperfection and suffer through the resulting stress.
2. Be patient. Another cause of resistance towards the present moment is our subconscious desire to escape this moment and get to the next one. It's not that the next moment is necessarily better than this one, it's just that we have grown tired of this moment and we can't wait for it to end. It doesn't really matter what the next moment is, just as long as it’s not this moment anymore. This is how impatience works and it has a way of ruining everything. When you spend all your time wanting to get to the next moment, you are missing out on your chance to be in this one. This resistance comes up all the time, so be aware of it. You could be having a lovely meal at a restaurant and be genuinely enjoying yourself. Then, at the end of the meal, you ask for the check and it takes far longer than expected. Suddenly, what was a nice, pleasant moment turns into an unbearable hell. Why do we now feel so trapped and desperate to leave this place? It’s because we have moved from acceptance of the moment and into a state resistance to it.
3. Be grateful. A major shift takes place in life when you stop fretting about all the things you don’t have and start appreciating what you do have. Without this basic gratitude running in the background at all times, you can never truly be satisfied. We all want a better life, a newer car, a bigger house, a better job etc. It’s okay to want these things, there is nothing wrong with having goals. However, if you determine that you are failing to live up to your own lofty standards, then you are going to get depressed. You have to begin by being grateful for what you've already got or else you will find yourself in a state of perpetual resistance to what is. Try making a list of all the things that you are grateful for. Anytime you find yourself feeling down because you wish you had more, come back to this list. The truth is, you don’t really need more, bigger, better things in order to be happy in life. Happiness is found moment to moment, as long as you remember that you are whole and complete already.
In conclusion, being in the present moment means consciously choosing to cooperate with it. Don't worry, you will have plenty of time to practice making this choice during your lifetime. Life will continue to throw various circumstances at you and you will always have the choice to either accept or resist the present moment. A stress-free existence means letting go of the need to control and learning how to go with the flow. So, the next time you are feeling dissatisfied, see if you can catch that feeling and then let it go before it ruins your ability to fully be here, right now.
Nick Hughes is a massage therapist, yoga instructor and co-owner of Well Being.