When we live fully in the moment there is an aliveness that comes easily.- Madisyn Taylor
Have you ever fed a hungry baby while watching television, only to look down to see them looking up at you with this intense gleam in their eyes? I have, many times. I’ve looked down at Lil’ E when I’m feeding him his bottle, usually during a commercial break, and seen “a look” in his eyes as he stares up at me. It’s a look that reeks of distain…as if he’s thinking “Hey, I’m paying attention to what I’m doing. How about returning the favor?”
Such went the morning activities. Today I was engrossed in a television interview with Amazon CEO. I looked down for a brief moment to make sure my baby was still awake and all of a sudden a wave of conviction passed through me like a rocket. What I was doing was wrong and I knew it. I was not living in the moment. I was multi-tasking. I was feeding the baby with my hands, watching television with my eyes and ears, and thinking about the day ahead with my mind. While that may seem pretty productive to some, to me it was pretty clear: I was missing out.
I turned off the television, took a deep breath, and looked down. A smile came across his face. His breath slowed slightly and he looked into my eyes with such love and admiration I wondered how a little human could be so smart. He totally understands what is truly important and I, the adult, was missing it.
Living in the moment is difficult at first. It may seem unproductive, or even, a waste of time. But there is so much for us to gain when we actually stay present and remain in the moment with ourselves, and with those we love.
Living in the moment opens up our hearts and souls to new experiences. It’s easy to become engrossed in work or play that we love…but living in the moment is available to us at any step and at any time. I’ve driven down my street thousands of times with my brain on autopilot, but yesterday I decided to live in the moment and be totally aware of my surroundings. With the radio off and my brain engaged, I noticed the most beautiful maple tree – aglow with the incredible colors of autumn. I don’t think I’ve ever noticed that tree before. In fact, if it hadn’t been so incredibly large I would have sworn it was just planted because I, for the life of me, could not remember ever seeing it. And it was beautiful. It was one of God’s most amazing piece of work…and I had been missing it.
Living in the moment helps us to know what is really going on. Ever had an argument with your spouse and danced around an issue to the point of total exhaustion? In my house those kinds of ‘discussions’ are usually centered on him talking – and me thinking of how I’m going to respond even before the words get out of his mouth. Taking a breath and truly living in the moment allows us to truly ‘hear’ what is really being said in the midst of those uncomfortable times. It allows us to hear beyond the words and to see into the heart of a person. If we do this and stay present, we can usually hear what isn’t being said at all: I’m hurt; I don’t feel respected; I need time alone; I need you to hug me. Those are all difficult statements to say, especially when anger and sarcasm come more easily. But being fully present and vowing to stay in the moment during those difficult conversations can (and will!) keep both parties calm and collected for the most part.
Living in the moment is a gift. We’ve all heard the old cliché: “Today is a gift, that’s why it is called the present”. I always thought that statement to be a bit cheesy, yet, this morning while feeding my little guy, I realized just how true this statement is. The more we allow ourselves to remain in the present moment, the more we honor those we love. When we give them our full attention we receive so much clarity and they receive so much love, that new realities come to life. What better gift than to give honor and respect to those in our presence?
Living in the moment takes practice. I don’t expect you to get it right away. But today I ask that you do one task and fully give it 100% of your attention. For me it was making Lil’ E’s bottles. I’ve been making his bottles now for over a month and did you know that unless I mix it for a longer period of time, there are little clumps of formula that don’t dissolve? Yeah, me neither. Living in the moment and giving my full attention to the task allowed me to realize that the formula needs to be mixed longer to dissolve better. For you, it could be driving down your street (no radio, no cell phone and for God’s sake…no texting.) Just you and the road. I bet you notice something that before would have gone unnoticed. Or, how about having a conversation with your child today and stopping everything you are doing to face her and truly listen to what she is saying? You might be surprised by how much she opens up – and you might even see a look of appreciation for the attention you have chosen to give.
None of us are perfect, and we live in a busy world. But if the purpose of my writings are to encourage you to simplify your life and take each day as it comes, then I would be wrong to not tell you how cool the present moment can truly be. So, try it and report back…I’m eager to hear about your experiences.