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How to accept the present moment (even when it sucks) and rewrite your future

May 29, 2013

“Be present” says your yoga teacher AGAIN as you flip back into downward dog and try so hard to focus on your breath instead of that really nagging thing your manager said to you earlier that day.BePresent

That’s if you even made it to yoga class in the first place because let’s face it, if work didn’t keep you late, your child isn’t crying that he doesn’t want you to go, or you’re not too overwhelmed and tired to get off your couch then you’ll come up with another terribly compelling excuse not to go.

I’m that girl too sometimes, so don’t sweat it. Here’s the thing:

You can LEARN to be more present more often. And you don’t have to go to yoga class to do it. Just like working out gives you strong muscles, “practicing presence” gives you a strong mind. And both take dedication and commitment. And produces results.

And just like strong muscles are evidenced in your life,

  • “I can climb the stairs without getting out of breath”
  • “I can lift my bag into the overhead bin by myself”
  • “I can pick up my now 45 lb daughter without throwing out my back”

A strong “presence practice” has an effect too.

  • “I was more patient with my kid after school today”
  • I feel more relaxed and centered”
  • “Whatever that mean lady said to me, it just rolled off my back” (this one is my favorite)

But today I’m particularly focused on one really powerful effect in particular – the ability to rewrite your future.

That sounds extremely dramatic and kind of woo woo. But I find the concept of “rewriting your future” extremely compelling. And the people I work with one-on-one or who take my SMART Yoga course, all have something in common. They feel stuck. And really done with being stuck. So they are SO ready to get moving, make changes, open up new roadways, take chances, and get back to feeling like their truly awesome selves again.

What does it mean to “practice presence?”

It means your mind and your senses are focused on anything and everything that’s happening in the right here and right now. And by the way, it’s not a permanent state – presence. You don’t suddenly become a Tibetan Monk and never ever worry again about getting everything checked off your to-do list. Our minds are built to be reflective of the past and conscious of the future for good reason – but too often we’re stuck back there or up ahead and therefore we feel disconnected.

Practicing presence by noticing everything you hear, see, smell, feel, taste, and experience in this moment and acknowledging that they’re here (even when whatever it is that’s very here right now kinda sucks) is the first step to freedom, possibility, and potential for changing what’s feels like is inevitably ahead.

What’s common between everyone who comes to me, is that they feel stuck because they’re gotten caught up in the busy-ness of everything. The million things that happen every day that worry them, distract them, or keep them mindlessly busy prevent them from taking a few moments to be right HERE. And HERE is when you can finally take a breath and realize:

“Oh, I’ve been so distracted, or worried, or bored and busy lately that I didn’t even realize that I’ve totally lost sight of what’s really important to me.”

InsertStoryHere

If you can do that regularly, practice being present, then you will naturally rewrite your future and get unstuck from what feels like the never-ending, never-changing hamster wheel of life.

<—-begin personal note—>
Personally in the last few years the two things that consistently came up from my presence practice were a) my health and b) my business. That was it. Every day. Every day I was tuned in to it. Every day I attended to those things (and health preceded business) and made them first and foremost priorities of my day.

I struggled to find the right balance of focus and forgiveness in myself. Sometimes I was over-obsessing and other times I was trying so hard not to over-obsess that became obsessive. And believe me at times I lost that battle and was overwhelmed to the point of needing a serious vacation or a serious meltdown (but hey those are both necessary and valuable too).

Before that, I was soooo stuck in the busy-ness of doing what I thought I was “supposed to do” meanwhile I was in a job I hated, waiting on the proverbial couch for things to happen to me, to make it all change. I repressed my intensely sad moments with continual busy-ness so I could just stay emotionally afloat and “get through it all.” I wasn’t ready to accept my misery for what it was for a long time, years actually.

It wasn’t until I really recognized and accepted what was happening that I was able to start a new story. I left the corporate world and started Live Beyond The Mat. I’m still writing that story in fact, every day. And every day I take time to connect to here and now and decide what’s really truly important to me.
<—end personal story—>

So in case this message was a bit too wandering, (I’m hoping something resonated with you, even a little nugget), here are the steps. Everyone loves steps.

How to accept the present moment (even when it sucks) and rewrite your future in 4 steps

1. Find a presence practice so you can exercise your mind and do it every day. 10 minutes is enough. (Click the meditation girl in the upper right hand corner of this page if you need a helping hand.) Consider it a ritual as important as brushing your teeth. Yoga, meditation, breathing, tai chi, the list goes on and on. (Sorry, no, jogging doesn’t count.) Also exercise your body – every day. This fortifies the mind for exercise and improves your mood and resilience.

2. Learn to recognize and accept the present moment. I’ll let Tara Brach explain it in her own beautiful words:

“Clearly recognizing what is happening inside us, and regarding what we see with an open, kind and loving heart, is what I call Radical Acceptance. If we are holding back from any part of our experience, if our heart shuts out any part of who we are and what we feel, we are fueling the fears and feelings of separation that sustain the trance of unworthiness. Radical Acceptance directly dismantles the very foundations of this trance.” – from Radical Acceptance

Trance is the busy-ness we get swept away in whether from all the “doing” we’re doing all the time, or the deluge of thoughts and beliefs about ourselves that say “you’re just not enough!” Yuck. Trance is bad.

3. With the clarity and focus of mind you’ll get by practicing presence, ask yourself “what’s really so important to me right now, today, at this point in my life?” Is it your career? Your family? Connecting with others? Finding a loving partner? Restoring your health? Taking time to rest? Whatever is it, give your attention to it for a moment or two every day. This is called “setting an intention.”

4. Now you’ve officially created a shift. And the future that lies ahead of you that previously seemed boring, hopelessly directed, or inevitable is suddenly filled with options. Possibilities. Hope. Optimism.

Now I don’t expect this to all make sense in one blog post. In fact, each of these steps in a six week course in and of itself and a lifetime lesson and practice. Just like yoga, our understanding and practice is constantly evolving.

In fact if you’re now REALLY wondering how to put this all into practice, sign up for the next SMART Yoga course. We work the steps to move you from stuck-landia to a rewritten future.

Smart Yoga YES I’m interested in possibly joining the next SMART Yoga six-week course this summer. (No obligation of course).

NOTE: this course has passed. Check out Rebecca’s website for upcoming workshops.

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