Learning to Live in the Present Moment

Most people are plagued with a mental illness called unconscious living. The symptoms of unconscious living manifest themselves when we least expect it. It sneaks upon us when we’re in conversations with others, when we begin to worry, when we’re peeking into the past or peering way into the future. One minute we’re fully enjoying what we’re doing and living in the moment; the next moment we’re having a mental conversation with our boss or focused on what we need to do after work. If you haven’t figured it out already, living unconsciously occurs any time we allow our mind to take us from the present moment and project on some past experience or future accomplishment or problem. And everyone suffers from it to one degree or another.

The problem with unconscious living is we fail to enjoy the blessings in our lives right here, right now. We think that when we have a new relationship we will be happy. When we get a better job everything will fall into place. When we lose 50 pounds then we can really begin to start living. The problem with this type of thinking is that we’re being robbed of the joyful moments happening right now. These are the joys of preparing a delicious meal, spending time playing with our children or fully engaged in an interesting conversation. Unconscious living makes us discontent with what is, so we’re forever trying to change our circumstance or ourselves. It’s like chasing after the wind. The past and future only exists in our thoughts and are not our present reality.

Even though I really don’t like to cook too much any more, when I do, I try to be fully present with what I’m doing. I pay close attention to every detail and take my time. I tell myself that I’m cooking my meal with love. I read recently that studies show the happiest people are those who make mundane activities into pleasurable rituals. Let’s face it, life can be pretty routine, however making the most of activities by fully enjoying them and not just tolerating or giving them rote attention can enhance your happiness quota. You know, stop and smell the roses.

Consistent meditation can help you to live more present conscious. It will help you to control your thoughts instead of allowing them to control you. It will help you to keep your mind from running off to some distance land in the mental cosmos. It will help you to stop pursing the dangling carrot of greener grasses and frolic in the grass you already have. Paul said that he learned to be content in all things. That is true freedom. You are complete in Christ. That is an absolute truth not predicated on how we feel.

This week concentrate on living in the present moment. Whatever you do this week give it your full attention whether you are talking on the phone, gardening, cooking, working on a project, or playing with your children. No multi-tasking allowed! Try to see and experience colors, gestures, expressions, smells, tastes and other sensory perceptions that usually go unnoticed. Take a walk and count the trees, look at the flowers, step on the sidewalk cracks, look for landscaping tips, and listen to the birds. When your mind starts to wander off, bring it back by observing your surroundings. Do the same thing while driving- look at your hands, the scenery, street signs, and other items in your car. Practice living NOW. Jesus said, “take no thought for your life.” In other words, spend this week doing minimal thinking and maximum enjoying what you already have. I once heard someone say, “Life is happening while you’re planning for your future.” Live Now!

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