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The Power of Living in the Now

The Power of Living in the Now

by Guest contributor Richard Smith on September 27, 2013

“Life is what happens to you while you’re busy making other plans” ~ John Lennon

Where do you spend your time?

Is it dwelling on the past and recalled experiences? Is it anticipating future events and how they might be influenced?

Or do you prefer the present – experiencing each moment with full contact and a raised awareness?

The past

There is a valid place for reflection.

In order to learn the lessons from our experiences it is vital to consider how our own behaviour influenced past events. Time spent reviewing what has already happened is never wasted, but it is a place to be visited at the appropriate time.

How often do sports people spoil chances of success by dwelling on a single mistake?

It is natural to be influenced by recent events – we feel happy after good moments and deflated after disappointing ones. Life always moves on, and such feelings do not last forever.

The future

Preparing for what might happen in the future is also time well spent.

By considering how our actions might bring about outcomes that are of greater advantage to us, we can anticipate resistance and potential sources of failure. This is vital for our personal and professional success.

However, when done to extremes, we can worry too much about those things we have little control over, and the worry can become the problem.

The now

There are powerful reasons to concentrate on the ‘right now’, as it can lead to a sense of greater understanding, an enhanced feeling of experiencing each moment, and indeed the sensation of slowing down time itself.

“Living in the present moment creates the experience of eternity” ~  Deepak Chopra

Gestalt womanThe principles of Gestalt are to raise awareness of what is figural – the focus of our attention – against the background, which is made up of everything else.

As shown in Gestalt images, it is impossible to hold two things as figural at once.

We can see the young woman or the old woman in the picture on the left, but can’t hold both views at the same time.

Focusing our attention on what might be figural raises conscious awareness

Mindfulness – which promotes increasing awareness of ourselves and our environment – teaches us to do just that. By noticing the signals and impulses from each part of our bodies – aches, strains and pressures, and the colours, sounds, textures and smells from the world around us, our very contact with each moment is enhanced.

“The present moment is filled with joy and happiness. If you are attentive, you will see it” ~  Thich Nhat Hahn

We are familiar with the feeling that the first part of a holiday seems to last much longer than the second, and this is because in the first few days we are more open to experiencing the differences with our usual environment.

Increased awareness through the use of all of our senses benefits us in that sensations become richer and more intense, and as more impulses per second are sent along the neurons to our brains, our conscious notion of time passing slows down.

Coaching encourages dialogue that is firmly ‘in the moment’.

The most insightful contact is always made when both coach and client explore a shared space within the boundaries of immediacy.

For example, a coach may well inquire;

“What are you feeling right now about your issue?”

Or may retort;

At this moment, I can sense your frustration. Can you tell me more about that?”

We can attempt to recall the past or visualize the future, but we only ever experience the present.

So as John Lennon suggests, it is surely the best place in which to live our lives?


Guest contributor Richard Smith

Richard Smith is a leader in the environmental industry, consulting with the University of Hertfordshire. His role includes consulting, management training and executive coaching. He is a believer in development and learning, especially in relational settings. The day we stop learning is our last on Earth, until then we never know the limits of how much we can grow.

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