Insights: No Time Like the Present

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Here we are, getting ready for another summer. Where do the years go?  They certainly go way too fast if you ask me. Even more reason to appreciate and enjoy each moment of it.

In my profession I see the reality of how life can change in a heartbeat.  This could be for good or bad.  That’s why it’s essential to live in the moment.

As Thich Nhat Hanh, a spiritual leader, poet and peace activist said, “Life is available only in the present moment. If you abandon the present moment you cannot live the moments of your daily life deeply.”

So much easier said than done.

How do we live in the present moment? The easiest way, yet an easy one to forget, is to breathe.

I know, we all are breathing all the time, but how often are we aware of our breath? It is that simple. Stop, pay attention to your inhalation and ex-halation. Notice your breath, how it feels as it goes in and out of your body. Now feel your feet on the ground. This brings you back to being present and centers your mind.

So often we are living in our “fight or flight “part of the brain called the amygdala, which keeps us in high alert for the future or even fear of the past. Either way, it keeps us from being present in the moment.

I was talking with a friend tonight and he was going through a difficult time. The more he talked about the future and the possible negative outcome, the more anxious and stressed he became.

I kept bringing him back to what is happening now and what needs to happen today. Once I was able to focus him in the present he was able to relax and feel more empowered.

Many of our negative feelings are related to our lack of presence.  Eckhart Tolle, who wrote such books as “The New Earth” and “The Power of Now” stresses that “Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”

The more we think and worry about the future and sit in the pain of the past, the less present we are. We think by trying to control our future we can make our life better. Actually that is an illusion. The more we are able to trust in the moment and are present in the now, the more we are able to be in the frontal lobe of the brain where we can make our best judgments, and the more we enjoy life.

I liken living life to driving. Eighty percent of our energy needs to be spent focusing what is right in front of your car, ten percent is looking in the rearview mirror checking what is happening behind you, and another ten percent is looking ahead to see where you are going.

Life works when we live it like driving. Spend eighty percent of your time and energy on the now. Enjoy the present.

Contact Dr. Shelly Zavala at or [email protected].


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