You didn’t experience them at any time but in the present moment. When you remember them, they are in the past, but you experienced them in the Now. Chances are the best things that will happen to you in the future will happen in the Now as well.
Sometimes we become distracted from the present moment. Your mind takes you on a fantasy romp through problems, judgments, opinions and memory instead of hushing up so that you can be present.
Of course our mind isn’t loud just when we’re around people. It won’t shut up when we’re alone either. Unless you’ve sufficiently occupied your marvelous brain, chances are that there is some sort of chatter.
I’m sure in your own life you’ve found out that telling your brain to shut up doesn’t work (at all). What do you think about if I tell you not to think about polka dot elephants? Polka dot elephants. Same principle.
What Spins Your Wheels
There are two factors at play that keep your brain churning.
The first is consciousness itself. The gift and curse of consciousness is the ability to focus. When you’re working hard, focus can be an asset. When you’re obsessing over a thought needlessly, it can be quite a curse. Why would consciousness focus on something that it hasn’t been told to, or that isn’t life and death?
Of course what we obsess over is not life and death (hopefully) – but our brain doesn’t know that. There are no filters that tell the brain when something is relatively trivial in the grand scheme of things. If it seems huge to you at the time, your brain starts to seek solutions. Fight or flight might even kick in, and then good luck getting those thoughts out of your head.
Through the combination of consciousness and our brains wild cocktail of flight or flight and the lack of ability to know what is important or not, we can easily get stuck in a loop until something knocks us out of it. The familiar tapes begin playing in our mind and suddenly we have evidence to support our cycle.
How do we snap out of it?
Getting Off the Chatter Wagon
Truth is, there are many ways to get your mind off of the Chatter Wagon and back into the present moment.
1. Close Your Eyes
What do you get when your eyes are closed? A private space. I’ve talked about the important of space before. Creating a space for yourself is critical to coming back to your present moment. If you can find a quiet place that will be uninterrupted for 5-15 minutes, I recommend doing so.
2. Tune In With Your Breath
Do we ever breathe as much as we should be? It is a practice of mine to be aware of my breath as much as possible, but I find that I’m still light years away from breathing deeply all the time. Whenever I get wrapped up in something else, my breath becomes shallow and in my chest.
Take a moment to slow down your breathing, letting your body find it’s own natural rhythm with your breath. With each breath you take, breathe a little bit deeper. Don’t exert yourself with this, or it will defeat the purpose of the exercise.
Just let yourself feel your breath deeper and deeper in your body. From your chest, to your diagphram, to your stomach, all the way down to your feet if you can. Breathe with your whole body.
3. Become Aware of Your Sensations
As you’re breathing and moving the breath through your body, you may become aware of tension, tingling or other sensations in your body. Direct your focus to those places and just experience what’s occurring within you. As you direct your focus towards any bodily sensations, the sensations may feel amplified. Stay with it and continue to be present to your experience.
If thoughts come up, let them pass through you. Suspend judgment and redirect your thoughts back toward your experience in the moment. As the sensations grow, the thoughts will diminish. Sometimes this can happen in a few moments, other times it can take five,ten, twenty minutes.
Welcome Back to Now
You might have cleverly noticed that I didn’t give you any steps to get back into relationship with what’s going on around you. That’s because there isn’t a flashing light that says, “You’re ready!” You’ll feel and know when you are. At that point, re-engage with the world around you.
This process works because when you take care of yourself, you are able to take be present to the world around you. Presence allows you to interact without becoming distracted or flustered.
You will be free to be.
How do you recenter yourself when you find yourself stepping out of the world and into your mind?