Joe was up to his eyeballs in work when the reminder on his smart phone rang. It was time to quit work and head to the holiday party for his wife’s company. He didn’t really want to go, but he promised her he would meet her there, so he packed up his desk and headed off to the event. Once there, he stood next to his wife as she introduced him to colleagues. As the group made small talk, Joe’s mind began to wander. He thought to himself, “These events are so boring. Why do people leave work, go to a party and then spend the night talking about work? Speaking of that, what am I doing here? I don’t even know these people. I really needed to stay at the office and finish my own work. How long is she going to want to stay? I’d rather be anywhere but here. I could be in the gym right now, getting rid of this spare tire. How did I get so fat anyway? I really need to get in shape.”
As Joe was off having a conversation with himself in his own mind, someone in the group was trying to get his attention. “What are your thoughts on today’s bear market, Joe? Helloooo. Joe?” Joe barely heard his name in the background of his personal, internal conversation when his wife’s tap on the arm yanked him out of his dream world. He tried desperately to jump back into the conversation and figure out what was going on in the present moment, but he was lost. His body was at the party, but his mind was somewhere else.
Joe was daydreaming, or zoning out, as it is often called. Many of us have been in the exact same place as Joe. We might be in a meeting at work, sitting at dinner with friends or family, driving home from the office when, suddenly, our thoughts wander off to some distant place far away from the action of the present moment. How many times have we arrived home without remembering how we got there?
Out of Touch with Reality
We have a mind that wanders off into the past or the future where we regurgitate old memories or worry about an upcoming situation. Our wandering minds can hyper-focus on one topic or run wild touching on a variety of topics, sometimes seemingly disconnected in nature.
When our minds wander, as they do about fifty percent of the time for most of us, we are off the grid, so to speak. Here, it is impossible to connect to the present moment. When we are disconnected from the present moment, we are disconnected from reality. We end up living a life that exists only in our heads, or that is based on illusions. From this perspective, we are missing out on life sitting on the sidelines, powerless to do anything that truly makes a difference to us. We deserve better than that!
The Past, Present and Future
In our waking time, we spend life in one of three places in our minds .¨ either in the past, the present or the future. Living in the past, we are often focused on unhappiness, anger, regret, resentment, blame, judgment or guilt about an event or situation that has already happened. It’s over and there is no way to change that. We can stop trying to make the past different.
Likewise, we often use the future to worry ourselves sick conjuring up a multitude of less than favorable scenarios that are frequently based in fear. The fact is, most of these doomsday–like scenarios never happen at all. So why give the future much attention? It isn’t real. And when the future does get here, it automatically becomes the present moment.
Spending an inordinate amount of time anywhere but the present moment leaves us powerless. Here’s why. Since the past and the future aren’t real, we can’t truly affect any meaningful changes in our lives there. How can we change what isn’t real? So what can we do with the past and the future that is meaningful? We can take our past experience and learn lessons for use in the present moment. And the future can be used to make appointments and plan events, but there certainly is no need to create situations in your head and then be afraid of them.
Your most powerful, effective place in your waking mind is in the present moment. What is the present moment? The present moment the time that exists right now. And now.
And now. You get the picture. The present moment is the only place where reality exists. This is the only place we have any power to anything about anything. It’s that simple.
A Wandering Mind is an Unhappy Mind
A Harvard University study was done to determine why our minds wander. Psychologists Matthew Killingsworth and Daniel Gilbert collected 250,000 data points from a smart phone app on participant’s thoughts as they went through their daily lives. The study concluded that our mental lives are significantly infiltrated by the non-present. The researchers said the mind ignoring the present is a sign of unhappiness; thus a wandering mind is an unhappy mind.
A wandering mind has also been found to be an unfocused mind. There was one activity, however, that the participants in the Harvard study said left them happy and sharply focused.
It was, they said, “making love.”
The Body and Mind Are One
There is no separation between the mind and the body. When our minds are aligned with our bodies, healing takes place. Conversely, when our minds are not aligned with our bodies, we are out of balance. When we are out of balance we open ourselves up for disease.
We would be well-served to practice having our minds in the same place as our body .¨ in the present moment .¨ most of the time. Certainly, there are times when everyone daydreams a little or wonders if they left the iron on at the house. These brief situations can actually be helpful to us. But, being out of touch with reality on a regular basis is an energetic mismatch for us. We are susceptible to preventable diseases and our quality of life can be greatly reduced.
In order to heal, we must align the mind with the body and the present moment. Why not practice this today and start the healing process now?!
The Present Moment Provides Healing
Healing occurs when we are in alignment with reality, the present moment. This is where life is the simplest, the easiest and the most beneficial to us and the world. We can get to the present moment more often with awareness and practice.
Slow down. Take time to relax. This week, instead of your usual routine of piling on work, take time to do one thing a day that is healthy for you. Take a nice walk, unplug from technology for an hour or sit and read a good book instead of watching TV. Give your mind a rest and allow yourself to get in sync with what is happening now.
Meditate. We know we are supposed to rest our bodies, but a lot of us forget to rest our minds. Practice this: sit quietly for five minutes twice a day, preferably in the morning and at night before bed. Focus on one thing .¨ the word LOVE, an angel statue, a candle or whatever item you wish to focus on for that time. If your mind begins to wander, gently put the intruding thought into a bubble and let it drift away. Do this without expecting perfection. Be gentle and kind as you practice focus and relaxation with this peaceful time. Meditation is a great way to help your body become present and allow healing.
Breathe. When is the last time you listened to yourself breathe? Perhaps it has been awhile or maybe you have never experienced this. Why not try it today? Sit quietly somewhere and for 5 minutes close your eyes and listen to yourself breathe. As you do, imagine the air coming into your body and the oxygen being exchanged for the carbon dioxide. Breathe slowly so you can tap into your parasympathetic nervous system where peace occurs. Try it again tomorrow. This can be a powerful way to get into the present moment and begin healing.
Listen. The next time someone is talking, listen intently and practice caring about what the person has to say, whether you agree with it or not. Since most of us are waiting to talk rather than listening to others, we are always in “READY” mode. But, being on guard to speak is stressful and forces us to live in the past or the future rather than in the present moment.
Practice active, mindful listening as a way to help maintain presence for more peace and more healing.
Let go. Let go of old issues that plague you in your life. When we keep reliving the past, we are bound to it. This takes up our valuable time for present moment living and all of its healing energy. This week, let go of one old story that you have been telling and retelling for more than a year. Most likely there is more than one story you have been retelling, so start with the one that works against you the most and let it go. Find a way to accept, forgive, change your mind and be free of it once and for all. This will allow you to come into the present moment and relax more often. Relaxation is healing and we all need some healing.
There are many other things you can do to find your way back to the present moment more often. Daydreaming once in a while can be fun and healthy. But living a life detached from reality, filled with regret and fear, leaves us powerless and sick. It is time for us to spend more time in the present moment where life can be truly and completely experienced and healing can occur. Practice something that gets you in the present moment right now. You deserve it!