How far can you see?
posted by Kathy Harman at Real Results (firstname.lastname@example.org)
I was walking through my favorite winding forest path today, the sun warm on my shoulders. The trees are still bare, although the buds are fattening up nicely. Peepers have started singing like their lives depend on it, thrilling me with the promise of spring. I looked up, and noticed that I could see quite a bit of the path in front of me. Actually, it was almost beside me, as it winds in exaggerated loops that help extend the walking experience. Seeing those loops stopped me for a moment, staring in disappointment. I could see quite far through the trees, and it wasn't a very long stretch of woods. I'd be out of it and ending my walk in no time! Yet, in the summertime, when the trees are in full leaf, the trail seems to extend forever. Time slows, as I can concentrate only on what I see, a small path bounded by a wall of leaves and bushes. The future of the path is a delightful mystery: what will I see around that next corner? But, when the leaves are stripped away, the path is exposed as artificial, man-made loops that fool us walkers into thinking we've gone far...
How like our lives! Think of the future as a path that loops through eternity. Sometimes we can see very far along that path, other times the path is totally obscured and we see only our immediate surroundings. When we see far, we tend to concentrate on the farthest point, missing our present moments in our rush to get there. And when we get there? It's more of what we just left! We see how we've created our path, and how it goes back and forth, fooling us into thinking we're making progress. In reality, we haven't moved very far at all!
However, when the future is hidden, we immerse ourselves in the present moment in all its fullness. We have no idea what awaits us around the next bend: it might be a treasure or a monster. So, we may move cautiously, but move we do, paying attention to any sign that may predict what we may find. Since we can't see far, what is near to us tends to catch our attention. We see the small things that escape our notice when we're focused on the future. It may be a short meeting with a dear friend, a beloved dog putting her chin on our lap for a pet, a child's laughter. But these treasures lift our spirits and give us the fuel to face whatever is awaiting us around the next bend.
Seeing far into the future does have its benefits. But paying attention to our present is what brings the most joy and positivity into our lives. While anticipation can be delicious, and replaying wonderful experiences we've had is uplifting, the only way we can create delightful memories is by paying attention to what we're experiencing right now. When we experience a positive present moment with all our beings, we enrich the moment, gain insights and feel at peace. If the moment is uncomfortable, we can still gain insights that lead to peace.
How do you fully experience your present moment? Try these:
- Take a walk outside in nature, and put all your attention on what you are hearing.
- Any time you are walking, pay attention to your footsteps. Really feel your feet moving up and down, your body moving through space. Feel the motion of your body as it moves.
- Every time you laugh, notice how it feels inside of you. Feel appreciation for what (or who) made you laugh.
- Put a sticky note on your pc monitor that says "Notice!". Every time you see it, stop what you're doing and pay attention to all that's going on around you. Notice at least one positive thing about what you're experiencing.
- When you're surrounded by loving family or friends, stop every now and then and simply enjoy the company, without having to say or do anything.
The more you practice really experiencing the present moment, the more natural it becomes. Once you create a habit of it, you'll find yourself to be more positive, calm and aware of what's going on around you. You'll still have your long-range vision towards the future, but now you'll find more enjoyment and fulfillment exactly where you are.