“The power of now can only be felt now. It does not require time and effort. Effort means that you are working hard to get somewhere and so you are not present, it is welcoming the moment. “Uniform toll”
Eight years ago, I was very depressed. I wanted nothing more than to stop feeling this way and dream of escaping from my body. I struggled with depression for many years, and I was worried that I might always feel that way.
Someone recommended that I do a mindfulness-based course. This turned out to be one of the most useful parts of my journey. The doctor suggested that I should learn to sit with their feelings rather than face their feelings, but this made me fearful. I was afraid of my feelings, and I felt that accepting them meant accepting them forever.
But as I practiced the skills of mindfulness and pain tolerance, I noticed that when I confessed my feelings they often shifted more easily. Or at least I didn’t make them worse by worrying about them. I realized that I was making depression and anxiety worse by resisting my feelings.
Connect with the present moment
I’m guessing this is a common conflict, and the solution may feel counter-intuitive. Many people fear that if they allow themselves to feel their feelings they will be taken by them. However, when I make room for my feelings without acting on them, sometimes it hurts and I can cry, but it is a clean pain rather than mental agony, and it does not last long.
I also find that connecting to the present moment helps to create a little space in my mind when my thoughts start to stress me.
It will be easy to think about the past, worry about the future, or wish for the future to come quickly. When I’m watching it now, I calm myself by listening to the sounds around me, touching my feet from the ground and watching my breath flow in and out and I feel calm.
Observe your thoughts and feelings
I have learned to observe my ideas rather than attach a story to them. Emotions cannot last on their own forever. I have heard that the natural lifetime of an emotion is about ninety seconds. But we can keep them alive for a long time by thinking about them, fearing them and opposing them. Emotions, like everything in life, come and go.
Once I had the ability to distance myself from my thoughts and not consume my emotions, I was able to take action to improve my life, even when I had not felt the same. I tried my best to embrace life because instead of focusing on how I wanted to do it.
This does not mean that I still have not struggled many times, but embracing the present moment helps me achieve these times more creatively. I don’t think my relationship with my partner would have worked if I hadn’t started learning these skills before we met.
Stop resisting the current
Fast forward a few years and I’m in Columbia, South America, where I have a partner. I went to meet his family when Kovid-19 hit.
Like many people, I no longer had the freedom and freedom I used to. Instead of living in the city like we expected, we were living in her parents’ city, and my partner was working from home. I did not have the option of joining a Spanish class or getting a job like I had planned, and many times I felt that I had lost. Six months later, I was feeling desperate, but I could not travel to Australia even if I wanted to.
During the tearful conversation, my partner suggested that I was probably very opposed to the situation. There was nothing we could do about it, and I was only making it worse for myself by opposing reality.
The next day my sister suggested me to read Current strength, By Eckhardt Toll. It changed my perspective completely. I was reminded that everything was really alright in the present moment in front of me. It was when I thought of the future that I reached a dark place.
Stop mental time travel
Just like when I was sad, I thought, “I can’t take it anymore!” How long is it going to last? “And just like that, when I accepted the current situation, it didn’t feel that bad. I started enjoying free time and spent my time knowing that nothing is always, good or bad.
I read books, do yoga, lay in the hammock and study Spanish. These were all things I had been doing before, but it felt different. I was no longer opposed to being in Colombia, I was right there. I stopped wanting to go back to my house or worry about how long it would be. And it allowed me to enjoy the beautiful, unique things about that season.
I slowed down and started staring at the trees and listening to the birds. I got a chance to know my in-laws and my fiance’s culture. Sometimes, when I get quiet and listen to silence, I have a deep feeling of peace and joy.
Take action when you can
Now, if there was something I could do to change things, I certainly would have done it. I am not advocating passive submission or determinism. Sometimes we need to take action, set boundaries and be proactive. In fact, when you stop resisting the present it allows you to see things as they really are. It can empower you to focus on the tasks that you can take right now instead of focusing on the future.
But when we cannot do anything, accepting this present moment is often more powerful than worrying about all the moments to come. You will know what to do when it comes time to work.
Surrender saves energy
If you are struggling with a situation that you cannot control, can you return to your body and what is here and around you? Can you make room for any feelings that exist and allow them to move through you? Pay attention to what you are breathing right now. What can you feel, see, smell, taste and hear?
Trying to get out of the water instead of floating on his back to surrender to the present. Be confident that eventually you will drift safely to shore. This not only saves energy, it allows you to enjoy any positivity in your current state, as good things like hard things will also not last forever. We have the present moment, and in a way it is all real.
It’s a practice
I am not good enough to think that I will not have any more bad days. It is part of being human, especially when we are tired, hormonal or stressed. I can forget this lesson and need to learn it again in a new context. I suspect that this is something I will practice for the rest of my life, and that’s fine. But I hope that the next time I will be able to catch myself a little sooner when I am resisting rather than just being in the present moment – where I inevitably find peace.