Living in the present moment is not a new idea. Eckhart Tolle has perhaps played the largest role in bringing our attention to the importance of “this now moment.” His book “The Power of Now” has sold over 3 million copies, and another estimated 35 million viewers participated in a series of live webinars with Tolle and television talk show host Oprah Winfrey.
But, what does it look like to truly LIVE in the now? To live in the present moment?
I remember attending an event lead by Dr. David Hawkins, author of “Power vs. Force,” several years ago. He shared a personal experience about having a surgical procedure without anesthesia. To paraphrase him, he said, “If I focused for a split second on where the knife had just been, or anticipated where the knife was going — it was excruciating pain. But, when I rested squarely and deeply in the present moment, it was pure bliss.” He even went on to say that he was disappointed at the end of the procedure because he was basking in such an intense state of inner peace and serenity. Holy moly guacamole!
On August 9th, 2012, I gave birth to twins. Rest assured, I opted for anesthesia when they determined a c-section was the safest way to birth my twins. But, throughout the last many months, Dr. David Hawkins story would become one of my guiding compasses to bliss, inner peace and sanity.
The early days and weeks with twins was particularly exhausting. I spent a good 1 – 1 1/2 hour of every 3 hours breast-feeding one baby after another, and then pumping for 15 minutes. As soon as I was done, I would eat, pee, nap, shower or breathe for a few moments before starting the whole process over again. Typically there was only time for ONE “activity.” We did this routine about 8 times a day!
I kept going back to Dr. David Hawkins share about his surgical procedure. “If I focus for a split second on where the knife has just been, or anticipate where the knife is going — the pain is excruciating. But, when I rest squarely and deeply in the present moment, it is pure bliss.”
Being a new mom is a lot like having surgery, minus the blood.
If I focused on how little sleep I’d had the night before with 1 or 2 fussy babies, how painful it was when the babies didn’t latch well at the last feeding or how incompetent I felt as a new mom — I would be irritable and discouraged.
If I focused on how little time I’d have for resting, showering and eating, I’d feel frustrated, overwhelmed and depressed. If I anticipated sore nipples, another sleepless night or an inconsolable baby, I’d feel like quitting or bursting into tears. If I focused on how my family and friends were playing with my babies while I was cooped up in the bedroom pumping, I got sad and jealous.
But, when I simply relaxed into the present moment of feeding one of my precious little newborns, I was in heaven knowing I was giving them the best nutrition possible as our bond deepened. When I relaxed into the quiet 15 minute break of pumping, I appreciated the time-out, as I read a book or connected with friends on Facebook. When I had a few minutes in the shower, I savored the nourishment of each drop of water — as though it was the only moment in the world. When I crawled into bed at night, and I invited myself into the now, I enjoyed the quiet of the moment, the comfort of my sheets and the strength for navigating another day of motherhood. When my babies cried and I simply relaxed into the present moment I was available to tune into that baby’s need to be held or fed and was grateful for the opportunity to care for this little being.
In other words… “If I focus for a split second on where the knife has just been, or anticipate where the knife is going — the pain is excruciating. But, when I rest squarely and deeply in the present moment, it is pure bliss.”
Okay, so caring for newborns and infants isn’t exactly like having surgery without anesthesia, but the principle of “living squarely in the present moment” is just as handy.
Try it in your own life, especially if you’re experiencing life like a knife these days… a frustrating or pain wrought yesterday or the anticipation more pain in the future. The cool thing is you can flip the switch to the present moment any time you choose.
If you’re having trouble shifting to the present moment, try focusing on your breath for a minute or two. You can also relax more easily into the present moment by engaging your senses of seeing, hearing, tasting, smelling or touching. Or focus on connecting with an object in front of you. Tuning into gratitude is another quick path to the present moment.
One thing I’ve found super helpful in strengthening my ability to be present is “NOW Practices.” I write about these in my book “The Power of Inner Choice.” NOW Practices is simply the practice of being present during an activity you’re doing everyday anyway.
As my babies have gotten older, I continue to remind myself of the power of the present moment… especially when there is only 15 minutes until nap time, a baby wants to feed at the breast for an extra LONG time, I hear an unexpected cry or I’m having an emotional temper-tantrum with reality (more about that next week!)
In the meantime, here’s to living in the present moment.