From Cancer to Consciousness
When the phone rang one sizzling summer day about three years ago, I answered it only to hear the quivering voice of my dear friend on the other end. Barely able to speak, she told me she had just been diagnosed with breast cancer. We cried, talked about treatment options and cried a little more. It’s an understatement to say it was a challenging time for my friend, but in the midst of it all, she managed to seize a quiet moment to ask why this had happened to her. She wasn’t asking other people their opinions, though; she was asking this of herself, her true self, her soul.
In the deep reflection of her life and how she lived it, my friend became aware of something that drastically changed her perception. She concluded that the cancer came mainly from feeling stressed a lot about the past and worrying about the future. Specifically, she spent a lot of time regurgitating prior events where she thought she had made critical mistakes. She carried the pain and disappointment of these events with her and revisited them often. She didn’t have much peace, to say the least. She also feared the future. She worried about things not going well in her job, whether her son would continue eating junk food as an adult developing health complications and how long it would take for her to find love again, if ever. She told me all of this without reservation, with profound conviction and, most of all, with calm acceptance.
Then she asked me to help her. She wondered how could she take this revelation and use it to change her life? My answer to her was to practice living in the Present Moment.
Living in the Moment
There are three distinct moments available to us here on Earth: the Past, the Present and the Future. Each one occupies our minds at some point throughout each day, but one rarely sees much face time compared to the other two.
Can you guess which one that is? If you said the Present Moment, you are correct.
And what is the Present Moment?
The Present Moment is the only moment where reality truly exists.
The Present Moment is the only moment where we can do something about anything. It is where we affect change, where we experience life and where we find peace and health.
By contrast, the Past and the Future are illusions. This is because the past is over and the future isn’t here yet, so this makes them both just thoughts. Thoughts about an event that has concluded or about one that hasn’t occurred yet are imaginary and fictional .¨ they are make-believe. The Past and the Future, then, are not real.
For example, let’s say you had an argument with someone at work last year about project deadlines that seemed unreasonable to you, but you didn’t say anything.
Instead of resolving it in the Present Moment, you stayed silent and felt slighted having to follow someone else’s bad schedule. Now, an entire year later, you are still replaying that scenario over and over in your head, wishing you had said something. You spend valuable Present Moment time playing out the new endings in your head. The only problem is the event is over. It can’t be changed. All of your scenarios with your new endings are fantasies .¨ they are unreal.
As we spend the majority of our time in the Past and the Future, we rarely experience true living. We are often somewhere other than here and here is the space that your body occupies. Our minds often wander off leaving our body behind to experience the Present Moment all by itself. Without the mind, the experience is not properly understood or utilized on a human level. When we are not in the Present Moment, we are out of alignment with our natural internal rhythm and innate wisdom.
This lack of alignment creates chaos, confusion and an unbalanced sense of life.
Any thoughts we have about the past or future that generate emotions are experienced in our body as if the event is happening now, but it’s not. All of the stress generated by your mind and transferred to your body is for nothing. This unbalanced sense tends to create preventable illnesses that continue to plague us until we find our way back to the Present Moment where peace and health exist.
We must remember that we can’t do anything about the past except have an experience, learn a lesson and apply it when a similar situation presents itself. When we practice doing this with the past, we can become free from it rather than tied to it.
The Future is similar to the Past, although instead of unsuccessfully trying to change what has already happened, you make up and play out scenarios on your head that haven’t even happened yet. This, too, is just a fantasy. The problem with the future is that we mainly see things not working out for us or others. There is a lot of negativity placed on future events. The good news is, this is just training and we can change it. Although the Present Moment feels the least familiar, the least comfortable and the least accessible to us, it is the only place that is natural, normal and healthy for us to be.
The Intelligent Being Within
The Past and the Future are both out of alignment with our soul energy. This mis-alignment leads to dis-ease as we worry and feel bad about a majority of our life.
We have a body that has a level of intelligence unmatched by the human ego or what is also called our false self.
We also have a body that is not set up for sickness; it is set up for health and vitality. Living in the Past and the Future with judgment, blame, regret, anger, worry and fear misuses the valuable systems and resources within our body that are meant to keep us healthy. For example, we have a Fight or Flight mode onboard that helps us save our lives in the event of imminent danger such as when we are being chased by a Tyrannosaurus Rex or when we are held at gunpoint. This Fight or Flight mode gives us the energy to stay and fight or to run to safety. However, we use our Fight or Flight mode for daily life and call upon it when someone cuts us off on the freeway or when someone says something we don’t like. We exhaust ourselves to the point of sickness. Our immune system is often low leading to further illness. The kicker is most of this sickness is preventable. The power to become healthy and live vibrant lives is ours and we can do this with a few small, but significant shifts.
We can train ourselves to live more in the Present Moment than in the Past or the Future.
The Present Moment is real and available to us. It is what is truly happening right now. The Present Moment is a more peaceful place to live because living here allows us to spend our time and our resources handling what is really going on, using our energy to deal with reality instead of fantasy. Since most of us are not in situations of imminent danger throughout the day, reducing our stress can happen instantly if we want it to. This leads to a vast improvement of our health as we realign with the intelligence deep within us. With awareness of the contrast between the Past, the Present and the Future we can observe life and begin to focus on the Present Moment, experiencing the sights, sounds, smells and thoughts in what is often called The Now.
Making the Shift to the Present Moment and Better Health
How can you make this shift and live in the Present Moment? Let go of feeling bad about what has already happened and let go of worrying about what isn’t here yet. Be willing to see what transpires when you are aligned with the Present Moment.
Don’t let any excuses get in the way like “I have to work at a job that is stressful” or “I have to drive on roads filled with angry people trying to get somewhere”.
You can be in the Present Moment anywhere in the world. If your job has some stress attached to it, this is all the more reason to find some peace in it by focusing on the Present Moment.
Deal with what is in front of you and then let it go. Don’t retell the stress of the day over and over to others or run it through your mind hundreds of times for years on end. And when you are driving to and from work, give yourself a break by noticing the weather, the colors all around you and the things you are grateful for in your life. This is where peace, love and health exist and all it takes is awareness and then a little practice.
Today, see if you can become familiar with the present moment by focusing on what is actually going on around you. Where are you? Who is with you? Who else do you see? What do you smell? What do you taste? What do you hear? Are the leaves on the trees rustling in the wind?
Can you hear crickets, cicadas, mosquitoes, bees all making their own special sounds? Can you see butterflies silently floating past you with bright colors and patterns glistening in the vibrant sunlight? This is healthy. This is life.