TIPS FOR BEING POSITIVELY PRESENT By Ella Miller
A quote by Eckhard Tolle says, "Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Make the now the primary focus of your life." I've been thinking about this a lot lately, asking myself if I'm giving enough attention to what I have right now in front of me. Because the only thing that is truly real is "here and now." Every second that ticks (even as you're reading this) is already considered the past. And what has not yet happened in the future is nothing that we can ever control. But despite this exact moment being the only thing that's real, we spend much of our time and energy worrying about what happened yesterday... who wronged us last week... or what someone said months ago, even though there's nothing we can do to change what occurred. In addition, we waste even more time making up scenarios for what will happen in the future. "The day will go perfectly." "There's no way it's going to rain." "Of course we'll be on time!" Even though there is nothing that we can do to create certainty or ensure a specific outcome. Why is that? I think our human nature tries to predict what will happen to bring us comfort, assurance, and a feeling of safety.
When I realized that I, myself, have spent too much time focusing on the past and future, and not enough on the present, I knew that I needed to be more grounded in the moment. I want to share something that helped me. It's a breathing technique in the book, SQUIRCLE, by Francis Cholle. SQUIRCLE is a method of thinking that can very easily bring about calm and balance, as well as help people adapt to what's happening in the world RIGHT NOW. In short, what the breathing technique does is focus on the natural movement of the body in order to draw attention to the present. In the book, Cholle directs readers to close their eyes and carefully observe the uninterrupted movement of the diaphragm while naturally breathing (the diaphragm is the large muscle that moves up and down in your abdomen when you inhale and exhale). When you do this for 3 minutes, your mind is able to stop wandering and racing. It should make you more aware of what your body is doing and feeling. You, indeed, will feel more present. So, the next time you feel overwhelmed, filled with anxiety or fearful, try the SQUIRCLE breathing exercise and see the difference it makes (or better yet, read the whole book — it's a quick read, super interesting!).
In order to fully live in the present, we need to let go of the need to always control and determine outcomes for what's happening around us. It's not possible for us to know what, exactly, is coming next. Once we become aware that we are doing this, we can consciously let go of the expectations that we've set, clear our mind of any negative thoughts or made up scenarios, and stop our heads from spinning stories based on what we "think" will happen versus what really is. The benefits include a greater appreciation for time and how we spend it, more peace within ourselves, and more time to spend on what's real and what really matters.