2017 looks and feels to be a time of change in many ways.
Sometimes the unknown of change can feel uncomfortable, un-nerving, and even frightening. So how can we move through times of change and stay connected to ourselves/each other, vulnerable, courageous, and resilient – all in the name of new beginnings?
Fearing the future
I recently had a conversation with a coworker. He told me how his eleven year old daughter gets stressed out about the future sometimes – the unknown, what lies ahead. She starts by worrying that she needs to get good grades in school, so that she can do well in high school, so that she can get into college, and then get a job. She has no idea what kind of job she wants; and she worries because she knows that one day she will need to make a living.
Whew, that’s a lot of stress for an eleven year old’s tiny shoulders!
But I can relate. When I start to think too far into the future – how my children’s lives will unfold, what kind of future they will have, or what my own future will look like – it is easy to begin to feel uncomfortable and worried.
So what are we to do in the face of changing times and uncertain futures?
Getting to the future one moment at a time
I remember what gives me comfort when too-far-in-the-future thinking doesn’t feel so good. I reel in my perspective, back to the present, where I can focus on what’s right in front of me. And I begin to feel better.
The vast future and the changes that we hope, pray and wish for don’t necessarily happen the instant we dream them or after a New Year’s resolve.
Sometimes new beginnings happen softly, subtly – moment by small moment.
When thinking too far ahead doesn’t feel good, we can pause and drink in the moments right in front of us – revel in their color, their texture, their feel. They may, in fact, become the brilliant bright spark moments, catalyst moments, one by one that lead us forward on the trail to new beginnings.
So I’ve decided to start 2017 – an auspicious year for change and new beginnings – really immersed in the present moment, whether I’m folding laundry at home, standing in line at the grocery store, dancing to a groovy beat, or cleaning ash from my helmet after a fire. Here’s my list to help make the most of the moments in front of me:
1. Become present.
Stop and decide to be “in” the very moment before you. You may need to physically pause what you are doing to become centered and present. It’s like jumping into a pool. So take a breath – close your eyes momentarily, pause, breathe – and take the plunge into the present.
2. Invite your senses to open fully.
Get your six senses (yes, six) ready to investigate, feel, process, and devour this moment fully. See, hear, smell, touch, taste everything you can in this moment and watch with wonder how your present moment morphs from a foggy forgettable blur into a dynamic-swirling-alive-beyond HD clarity-and-color moment. And of course, remember to invite your sixth sense – your intuition – to play. How are your collective senses informing you about this moment?
With your six senses opened and alive, let your feelings emerge fully. However you feel is perfect; there is no judgement on feelings. Feel into all of it at this very moment in time – light and dark. When you allow yourself to feel your varied human emotions, you are opening up the way for what comes next.
As you are feeling through this once in a lifetime moment with your whole body – through your heightened senses and feelings – be open to any messages or guidance this moment has for you. What are you hearing, feeling, sensing, seeing, getting to do? If anything?
From this place of magnified and enhanced aliveness, your next step will become easily apparent to you. Your next step, may be full-throttle action. Your next step may be to simply engage in the very next moment.
When we become awake and alive in our every moment, we will have activated and illuminated the perfect path before us. And gradually, we will begin to feel hopeful – not hopeless; we will begin to feel empowered – not powerless. And the unknown future or new beginning that once seemed far away, impossible to picture, or just plain out of reach, seems clearer and closer with every intentional moment. We are ready to take on the world one step at a time.
I suggest to my coworker – maybe his daughter can bring her focus back from the unknown and scary future that seems so way far away. Maybe she can bring her focus to what’s right before her – in the current moment. What in THIS particular moment can she pay attention to, moment after small moment?
Will you join me in this practice, friends, moment by moment?