When I wake up every morning, some of my first thoughts are, “what do I have to do today?”
I would like to train myself to give that up. I would like my first thoughts when my eyes start to open to be fully in the present. “Hey! I’m awake! I can hear the dogs snoring and the husband making coffee. The bed feels so soft and comfy. My body feels good (or achy or whatever). The air is cool. The neighbor is mowing the lawn.”
Can you imagine how much less stressful it would be to just center myself in the moment of waking, rather than initially thinking, “Oh, shit. I have so much to do today,” then picking up my phone to mindlessly scroll to numb my stress?
It’s a goal. Waking is one of the hardest times for me to get grounded because my brain wants to rev up. But I know it would be better for me to take a pause and stay in the moment. Then, to take each moment as they come.
I do try to go through my days like this and it is a great way to deal with anxiety. When my anxiety rears up, I try to remind myself that I’m “borrowing trouble from the future.” Staying present and dealing with the now is a lot easier than trying to think through all of the future problems.
It’s not easy and I have to reset myself constantly back to the moment. (On a related note, in a few days, I’m going to share how I do mindfulness based stress reduction.) But it’s worth it.
One time in my life that I remember staying very present was when my daughter was an infant. For the first two years of her life, I had to rock her to sleep, sometimes for an hour or longer. I was breastfeeding and this was the time for her last snack of the day, so it was my job to rock and rock and rock. She was sensitive to being put down in the crib – always the little party animal who wanted to stay awake all night – so I’d have to rock until she was solidly asleep, then cautiously tiptoe to the bed and place her gently on the mattress.
I never worried about hurrying this along. I didn’t care if I had work to do, guests in the other room, or was just dog-ass tired. I would sit and rock, enjoying holding her in my arms, looking at her precious face, and listening to her breathing.
Although I hoped and planned to have more children, I couldn’t shake the thought that this may be my only chance to have a baby. I wanted to cherish every precious moment I could with this little creature who grew right before my eyes. So, I did. When my arms would grow tired and my butt would lose all sensation, I would keep rocking and holding her. Even when the fatigue of motherhood would get to me and all I wanted to do was sleep, I looked forward to rocking her.
I do not regret one second of the time I spent nurturing her. It made me feel peaceful when my life didn’t always bring peace. It helped calm me and center me on my chosen purpose. And, a bonus, it made my daughter and I very close.
I continue to try to capture that focus on the moment in other areas of my life. I was not wrong in feeling raising her could be my only chance at mothering – it was. Had I hurried and scurried, worried about work, chores, or whatever else was going on, I wouldn’t have had those absolutely mesmerizing years of holding my little child. I wouldn’t have noticed some of the changes that I saw in her as my eyes adjusted to the darkness of her room. I wouldn’t have felt sickness coming on or growth spurts starting. I would have missed tiny, key moments.
When I am able to maintain a moment the way I did in those short, precious years, I also find myself noticing important things I would have missed. The look that passes in a colleague’s face alerting you to a problem. The imperceptible limp in the dog that leads to the discovery of a torn toenail. The slightest furrow of a brow that says your spouse is worried.
Maintaining the moment also leads to so much more joy. Instead of wasting time on the past or future, you can indulge in the positive emotions of now. Whether it’s savoring a bite of birthday cake, or watching the awe on a child’s face when they first notice what has become mundane to us, it’s worth it to live fully in the moment.