by Neissa Brown Springmann
Have you ever driven somewhere and been so preoccupied thinking that you had no recollection of the time or things you passed? It’s the sensation that someone picked up your car and placed it ten, fifteen, or twenty miles up the road. It’s as if that particular block of time never even occurred. I wish I could say I’ve only heard about this happening to other people, but unfortunately, I’m guilty. When it dawns on me that I completely spaced out while driving a large moving vehicle, it’s downright frightening.
Unfortunately, I think it’s impossible to live only in the present moment, be entirely mindful and go through life without ever being preoccupied, but I do think it’s possible to become more aware of how often we are mentally, physically, or emotionally chasing a rabbit down a dark and narrow hole that prevents us from experiencing the beauty, magic and miracle of each day.
As I am preparing to move to San Diego around the end of summer, one of the intentions I have set for myself is to try like heck to be mindful, present and live in the moment. Before our move to San Diego was solidified and moving was a likely probability, my mind would race in a million different directions. Random questions that I couldn’t and wouldn’t be able to have immediate answers to would pop in to my head. The idea that I would be responsible for creating a new life for my family, finding schools, making friends, expanding iGnite, etc. etc. etc totally overwhelmed me to the point that I would feel physical stress take over my whole body. I would get angry. This chosen behavior was nothing short of torture. It completely sabotaged any joy or happiness I was feeling and caused absolute paralysis — leading to zero productivity. So, I stopped. It was a waste of my time and energy and was in fact taking away from my family, friends, iGnite, my health… my life!
I’ve realized that the antidote to freaking out and having a miserable and frantic day is a non-urgent mindset. I remind myself that everything that needs to get done will get done, and I will not let the magnitude of what lies ahead consume me. I keep a good calendar of what I need to do, combined with a list of things I want to do, because it can’t be all work, right? Each day I do what I can do and relinquish the rest to tomorrow. After all, (I continue to remind myself of this), what I am dealing with is a first-world issue. It is not a problem, a.k.a. a sick child, a dying family member, a husband at war, a foreclosed house, no food on the table, no clothes on our back, an earthquake, or a tornado. The list of real concerns and problems is endless. What I’m dealing with is just a move, and I mean that sincerely. It’s just a move and all will happen as it is supposed to. Worry and being preoccupied will only take away from the enjoyment of everything that I love and the things that matter most: people and my relationships.
As for how living in the moment pertains to anyone who is not moving, it’s May, and May is the “month of nutso.” Regardless of how old your children are or if you even have children or grandchildren, the school year dominates a certain segment of our culture, and because energy is transferable, when the end of school crazies set in, the semi-chaotic energy can be felt by everyone. If not the end of school, maybe it’s work, family, a project or life in general that has you preoccupied, distracted and is preventing you from being fully present and living for the moment. I get that! Life can happen like this, a lot, but being aware is the first step. The second step is avoiding the victim mentality by taking responsibility, and the third step is taking action to stop the bleeding.
For me, once I become aware, the actions are prayer, deep breathing (preferably in the fresh outdoor air), and a notepad or calendar to get what’s distracting me and occupying too much mental and emotional space out of my head onto paper. According to an awesome Huffington Post article 13 Things Mindful People Do Differently Every Day, other ways to be mindful and live in the moment are: taking walks, being creative, paying attention to your breathing, uni-task (don’t multitask), knowing when to check your phone, find new experiences, enjoy mother nature, allow yourself to feel what you are feeling, meditate or pray, be conscious of what you put in your mind and body, have a great sense of humor, and let your mind wander.
I realize this is cliche, but life really is too short to be constantly preoccupied, worried or busy with “the list.” Just as the quote above says, I’m learning that I’ll never get it all done, and the less force I apply when trying to get it all done, the more quickly it gets done and the happier I am. It’s the idea of applying ease to the effort, and letting the ease lead the way.
All in all, becoming aware and having perspective so we can live in the moment and enjoy life’s blessings more often is certainly a goal that can be accomplished. Even though the month of crazy is upon us and our lives in general feel hectic, it’s a good time to take mother nature’s lead and allow the springtime showers to slow and relax our minds, and know that our time is NOW! Or in the wise words of Erma Bombeck “Seize the moment! Remember all of those women on the Titanic who waived off the dessert tray!” HA!