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The Power of Present Moment Thinking

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Sometimes I think my little brother teaches me more than I teach him. One of the best lessons he demonstrates is how to use time.

He has a thousand activities: biking, snowboarding, playing video games, reading, listening to music. He jumps from one to another with great enthusiasm.

He never wants to go to sleep, fearing he might miss another opportunity to have fun, learn something, or find a good song to listen to.

Yet, when he does decide to hit the sack, he falls asleep almost immediately. He’s filled with a curiosity, a genuine joy for life.

His philosophy of time is similar to one I’ve read much about lately. Eckhart Tolle once wrote “The past has no power over the present moment.”  My brother relates almost exclusively to the immediate present. I believe this ability to be a gift of youth and the result of much practice.

It is important to learn our lessons from the past but not to let it linger in our minds. Ruminating like this gets us nowhere and can take over our emotions creating feelings of anxiety, worry and regret. This is why we should pay close attention to the message Mr. Tolle has shared with us. We should not let the past have power over the way we feel in the present moment.

A similar scenario unfolds if we are always caught up wondering what the future holds for us. We become fixated on fantasies and moments that don’t yet exist. Our bodies react by becoming excited, anxious and we may even feel fear and apprehension.

Accept the present moment for what it is- good or bad- and then act. Whatever that moment may contain, accept it as if you had chosen it. Work with it, not against it. Make your mind an ally, not an enemy. It is said by many thinkers that this will miraculously transform your entire life.

Peaceful Abiding

We’re always placing our mind on one object or another. In peaceful abiding, we ground our mind in the present moment. This mindfulness is taught by many eastern philosophers, including Sakyong Mipham He teaches in his novel “Turning the Mind Into an Ally” that when we notice our thoughts and emotions getting out of control, we should “return to the breath”. Concentrating on the breath is taught in many cultures and has proven to have many benefits. It will bring us back to the present moment and, if we are breathing slowly and consistently, is shown to activate a part of our brain associated with relaxation. This “yogi” or “diaphragmatic” breathing is great for relieving stress as well as remaining grounded in the present.

Another technique that Ekhart Tolle shares with us is to try and empty our minds, with the final thought being “I wonder what my next thought will be”. We then sit, enjoying the silence of our minds; we’re in the present moment. When a new thought occurs, we take inventory of that thought without judging it. We let it pass and again ask ourselves “I wonder what my next thought will be”. It is my experience that if we practice this technique the amount of time between thoughts gradually increases with practice.

Many of us are guilty of putting our lives on hold pending some resolution. We say, “When my life is better, I’ll be able to start focusing on positive things”. This is a big mistake. Start NOW! When you give in to what is and become fully present, the past ceases to have power over you. Seize the day and use these techniques to achieve holistic wellness.




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8 Responses to The Power of Present Moment Thinking

  1. Jess October 16, 2010 at 3:26 pm #

    Great article on present moment thinking Mitch! I try to do this as well and try not to dwell on the past and think of what is in the here and now. Siblings always teach us the best things sometimes, and yours seems to have taught you a great one!

  2. Mitch Straus October 16, 2010 at 4:19 pm #

    Thanks Jess!Sometimes it’s difficult not to get caught up in the past. It’s important to recognized the emotions associated with certain thoughts. Why stew on past events? Once we’ve learned from them and moved on it’s time to see the joy of the moment. The joy is in the journey!

  3. Linda October 17, 2010 at 5:22 am #

    Thanks for the well presented information. Living in the present is the most important way to achieve balance and peace of mind.

  4. Mitch Straus October 18, 2010 at 9:53 am #

    You’re welcome Linda! I agree wholeheartedly. Like they say… the joy is in the journey. If we can perfect mindfulness and present moment living we can experience true joy, and thereby true holistic wellness!

  5. Keith Nemec October 20, 2010 at 10:28 am #

    We all need peace in our lives in order to move forward.  Like you say don’t focus on the past, start your future NOW. 

  6. Engress October 20, 2010 at 2:40 pm #

    I find the part about ‘I wonder what my next thought will be’ fascinating. I have tried meditation, without much luck, because I suffer with BiPolar disorder. Spent months trying to tame my wandering mind to only find stress at the other end. Also, tried Yoga but didn’t stick with that long enough to know whether or not it would be helpful. This is a wonderful article and truly great advice for anyone who is willing to take a step toward making their life a bit better. Keep in mind getting results will take months to years and you can never know too much. ~Engress

  7. Mitch Straus October 21, 2010 at 8:07 am #

    @Keith: There is no future, there is only now. Anytime you think of something, it is happening now. Sure, understanding our past helps us make better decisions, but I firmly believe that the power is in this very moment. Every thought, however minuscule, creates an emotion and those emotions shape or present reality. They are what count. Read The Power of Now by Ekhart Tolle. I think you’ll love it.@Engress: Bipolar can be difficult, my cousin suffers from it. I’m glad you found that tip useful. In all honesty it works better for me than mindfulness or returning to the breathe. Like you said, it takes time.

  8. Alex Gadd October 21, 2010 at 4:25 pm #

    great article, keep up good work

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