Get Back Here!

A common underlying theme for clients who are experiencing almost any sort of difficulty, is a lack of present moment awareness. Whenever any of us is worrying about the future or ruminating over the past, we are no longer here and now. We have shifted away from the only time when we are actually living, and that’s in this moment, right now.Anxiety might be described as future-focused fear. We are worried about something that hasn’t actually happened and may never happen. A closer look reveals that most of what we worry about never does actually happen. And worrying doesn’t prevent its occurrence, it just robs the present moment of juice.

Lennon  (1)Similarly, depression is often linked to past events that continue to haunt us, over which we ruminate and marinate in regret and remorse. The past can’t be changed, the only place we can really take any action is in the present. Learn from the past? Absolutely. Live in the past? Not so good.

Shifting focus into the present moment, even for a few moments, can serve to remind us that in this moment, everything is fine.

I am breathing, as Jon Kabat-Zinn would remind us, and so there more right with me than wrong with me

action worry enemyFor some, physical activity brings us back into the present, especially activity that requires focus and concentration. In my world, skiing and mountain biking require me to be fully present, otherwise I am upside down in snow or hugging a tree, and not in an environmentalist kinda way.
For others, an engaging pursuit or passion keeps them fully in the moment. Playing guitar, writing, knitting, learning a new language, competing in canine agility championships, the list is endless. I was once at a political leadership convention and a man next to me exclaimed that this was his 12th such event and in his experience, they were “better than going on a cruise”. He was way in the moment.

Mind: a beautiful servant, a dangerous master – Osho.

dog and human

Who is the enlightened being in this picture?

Mindfulness encourages us to stay here in this moment and to see our thoughts, worries and feelings for what they are. Without the ability to detach from self-defeating thoughts, we become their victims. We tell ourselves stories that on closer examination are revealed to be distorted at best and at worst, untrue.

Some tools and strategies that help shift us back into the present? A simple reminder to Get Back Here posted where you’ll see it frequently, or an alarm on your cell phone that triggers you to bring yourself back to this moment can be helpful.

A powerful approach to detaching from persistent negative thinking and future-focused worry is found in Byron Katie’s The Work. Her simple set of questions helps us to see that our thoughts are the culprits, but only 100 percent of the time. Our distorted thinking brings unhappiness and whenever we can detach from it we are free.

smiling toesA third strategy is to ask this great question that I heard years ago from some very wise people: “Where are your feet?” Of course, they are right here with you, on the ground. Get back here and join them.

And finally, your breath, always with you, is a powerful tool for anchoring in the present moment. When you find yourself mentally in a galaxy far, far away, bring your attention to your breath.

Deep inhalation. Slooooow exhalation. Repeat.

Invitation

inh exhExperiment with ways to bring your thoughts back into the present. Consider posting visible reminders like “Get Back Here” and ‘Where are Your Feet?” and notice what a difference it makes when you are fully present.

Have a look at one of the resources below and dip your toes into some of the strategies for detaching from your thoughts so that you can be here, now.

Resources

Byron Katie: The Work. Her book and website (http://www.thework.com) offer a powerful set of questions to help you disengage from distorted thinking, regrets and worries and ground yourself in the reality of the present moment.

Jon Kabat-Zinn: Pretty much everything he has written and recorded focuses on present moment awareness or mindfulness. Start anywhere!

ZeFrank created this simple music in response to a request from one of his fans: http://zefrank.bandcamp.com/track/chillout