to be Present.

{ A simple tip for being in the Now.}

I read a Taoist story of an old man who accidentally fell into the river rapids leading to a dangerous waterfall. Everyone was really worried for the old man’s life. Miraculously, he came out alive and unharmed at the bottom of the falls. People were amazed and asked him how he had managed to survive.

“I accommodated myself to the water, not the water to me,” said the old man. “Without thinking, I allowed myself to be shaped by it. Plunging into the swirl, I came out with the swirl. This is how I survived.”

During the 17th century the concept of the struggle for survival referred to the competition or battle for resources needed to live. Today the struggle we experience is of a different kind: to survive the rapids that swirl in our minds. The present moment being the flowing river, our thoughts, the water and how our minds choose to perceive the situation determines how strong the current flows. In order to prevent ourselves from being dragged by the strong current of our thoughts our mind must accommodate itself to the flow of life IF we want to save ourselves from drowning in the present.

We all have moments in our lives where we find ourselves drowning in a situation or concern. It may occupy such a big part of our mind that it completely disconnects us from our life and the present moment. We get so consumed by all the information that our ego so happily keeps feeding us that we don’t even register the things happening around us. Sometimes to the extent of even paralysing us in the moment, a moment which seems to last forever.

“Life is available only in the present moment. If you abandon the present moment you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply.” ~ Thich Nhat Hanh

For moments like these, when you feel like your thoughts are like the river but the current’s just too strong, all you need to remember to do is : Take a deep breath and try to effortlessly stop the thoughts and just look around you. This is what I think the old man meant when he said, “Without thinking, I allowed myself to be shaped by it.”

Don’t be too hard on yourself. If it’s too hard to distract yourself, start small by simply noticing all the things around you and quietly listing them in your head.

For example, if you are in a room, begin by noticing the walls, then the windows, next move on to the curtains, specify the color of the curtains if you like, notice the door, lights, the AC, the study table, bed, pillows, drawers, the lamp and even tiny little things like the light switches..

Keep going until you feel like you have listed enough things for you to be able to be completely aware of your surroundings. This exercise guides you to become more aware of the contents of your present moment. Practice this every time you feel that wave of anxiety creep in and I promise you, YOU will slowly but surely be the one in control of your mind and not the other way around.

“I accommodated myself to the water, not the water to me.”
“The more I give myself permission to live in the moment and enjoy it without feeling guilty or judgmental about any other time, the better I feel about the quality of my work.” ~ Wayne Dyer