This Is My Moment
Posted by Deborah Fields
"Yolo" is a current piece of slang meaning you only live once. The question therapeutically for me is where is that once? How do I impact right now, what is my part in right now, all great questions, yet by asking, are you taking yourself out of this moment?
Maybe it should read "timm," this is my moment.
Eckhart Tolle states " Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it." We often believe we have done just that, yet habits are hard to break and we look for confirmation in life that our habit, be that addiction, an eating disorder, a panic attack, depression, being a workaholic, any habit in fact, is one of choice. Is it? Chemically, biologically, phenomenologically and psychologically?
Research on the brain has shown that the brain will shape path ways to avoid pain. We are scared of making the same mistake again so avoid repetition and avoid the potential in the future. That effectively takes us out of right now. We attach a bungee cord to that time when we felt x, it is familiar, safe, so we are ripped straight back to that point as if on the fairground running as fast as we can until that stretch is so uncomfortable we are pulled back.
This means we are stuck in doing, rather than being. How many human doings do you know? I'll do it, leave it to me, of course I can, I will, I'll sort it, let's do something different, let's sort this, what is the solution?
John Kabat-Zinn suggests that
"Our brains operate primarily in 'Doing' Mode. We actively use our minds to solve problems, make plans, anticipate obstacles, evaluate how far we are from desired goals and choose between alternatives by judging their relative value. While “Doing” mode is extremely useful for helping us advance in our careers, be popular, lose weight, and a myriad of other life tasks, it falls short when it comes to managing emotions. Emotions cannot be reasoned away or “solved” and evaluating how far we are from feeling as happy as we’d like to feel only makes us feel worse. This type of thinking can actually exacerbate “sad” emotions by introducing a second layer in which we criticize or judge ourselves for being sad. “Doing” mode also doesn’t work when there is nothing we can do to change the situation. We may desperately want to be married, rich, loved, or successful, but we cannot force these outcomes to happen right away, even with the best of efforts. “Doing" mode can also lead to disheartening comparisons with people we feel are doing better than us and ruminations of why we are not where they are.
“Being” as an Alternative to “Doing”
Now, nobody is suggesting that we give up “Doing” mode altogether. If this were the case, we would never even find our keys to get out the front door. However, there is another way of being that many of us are not even aware of, and that is “Being” Mode. Unlike its counterpart, “Being” mode is not action-oriented, evaluative, or future-focused. It involves slowing down our minds and deliberately grounding ourselves by focusing on what we are experiencing right now. In "Being” mode, it is okay to just be us, whatever we happen to be experiencing; we do not try to change our thoughts or emotions into more positive ones or shut out aspects of our experience. Rather, we begin to develop a different relationship with our own senses, bodily states and emotions by deliberately focusing on what they are trying to tell us and allowing ourselves to be compassionately open to these messages.
“Being” mode involves accepting what is, because it will be there anyway. We begin to release energy, relax, and let go of the struggle to mould our reality into our preconceived ideas of what it should be. We begin to let go of judgments and regrets about the past and fear of the future. Rather than berating ourselves for not achieving the status in life we think we deserve or are entitled to, we allow ourselves to look fully and open-mindedly at where we are. Eventually we realise that this may not be so bad. We learn to extend love, compassion, and kindness to ourselves, and everything around us, rather than compartmentalizing reality into “good” and “bad,” or “winners” and “losers.” We are all infinitely more complex than what we earn or own; we are lovable and interesting, just by being human. This moment is just this moment and not where we are stuck forever. Ironically, by accepting the present, we open up space for internal and external movement and change.
The Advantages of “Being” Where We Are
”Being” mode is a core component of mindfulness and spiritual practices. It is something that requires practice and training because we need to overcome our minds’ natural habits and fear-based biases. Experiencing “Being” mode can help us feel more whole and relaxed; we move from reacting automatically to having more choices about how we respond, based on a fuller understanding and acceptance of our own sensory, physical, and emotional experience. It is the opposite of dissociation and avoidance that many people use to cope with negative emotions and situations. We activate the more loving “approach” circuits of our brain and move away from the “avoidance” modes."
Recent research also shows that with fear and anxiety, which is clearly heightened when our brain is actively searching for that,"do over" to avoid, feeds the brain's chemical reactance creating adrenalin and cortisol. The more afraid we are the more fear we feel, that might happen, it did once, what if, I can't, yes but...
Embrace the fear, I'm ok, I'm frightened, I'm worried. Treat the adrenalin shot like a free can of Monster or red bull. Wow, I have this energy right now, just think of all I can do and be feeling like this.
Practice mindfulness, living in the here. The following are a few exercises on mindfulness.
Put your hands with the fingers just touching under the "bra strap line" as you breathe in; the idea is that your fingers will separate. This is breathing using the diaphragm.Once you can breathe, look at a clock and start timing 60 seconds. Focus on nothing but your breathing, if you start thinking, start again and aim for as long as you can, purely focus on breathing. Preferably with your eyes open. Some people take years to learn to do this, so be kind and don't expect success or failure, be in the moment and breathe.
Count to ten, gently and slowly. As soon as your mind wonders and goes off on a tangent, start again, focus on the counting
Pick up anything close to you, feel it and get lost in it. Don't think, define, analyse, critique it. Be with it and truly see what it is.
A mindfulness app on modern phones is a great reminder. While you're at work or out, a gentle randomly timed bell goes off reminding you to be. If you don't have a smart phone, pick a sound you hear randomly during the day. Could be a phone, a tweet, an animal, a voice, pick anything and use it as a cue to be.
Being in the moment can affect panic attacks, anxiety, eating disorders, addictions, depression, self esteem and much more.
Therapy enables many to work out what happened yesterday, that shapes tomorrow and IF that is a choice we want to make now