We just got back from a weekend in Florida. My mom lives there so it’s a regular destination for us.
I say, “Oh, yes you were.” Then I apologized to the people walking as the ball whizzed past their heads.
And this incident had me thinking long after it was over. I gave my son advice that I myself should listen to more often. I have read many books on staying in the present moment. And I think I do an OK job at being in the here and now.
But I also think too much about the past and the future. For example, in my new tutoring work I find myself already worrying about the summer. Will I work then and how will I work with my kids home for the summer? I find myself thinking about other people not thinking I am good enough at what I do. Will the kids I tutor enjoy my teaching style?
And the past, I think about mistakes I have made. I let my ego tell me how unworthy I am because I have yelled at my kids or because I don’t exercise regularly “like I used to.” I still beat myself up over my ever-present mocha addiction.
I forget that life changes all of the time. I forget to tell myself, nothing is permanent, everything changes. If I was the same as I “used to be” I wouldn’t be the me I am now.
In reminiscing about the present moment, I remembered a book I read a year ago called Radiance: Experiencing Divine Presence by Gina Lake.
She says that one of the reasons I turn away from the present moment is that I am programmed, by my mind or ego, to reject life as it is. If I live in my ego, I will always want things to be different than they are.
I see a perfect example of this theory when my son decides that his shot will be great and looks ahead of him to see where the ball is going rather than at the actual ball he needed to see first to get to the “great” part.
Lake says, “The ego would rather give attention to its fantasies, dreams, memories, opinions, judgments, and even fears than to the actual reality of any moment, which in addition to being imperfect (from the ego’s point of view), is impossible to control or predict.”
What that means to me is that even if my son is present, he might still have a crappy shot. But that is also part of being there – accepting the moment just as it is.
Lake says, “Accepting whatever is happening drops you into Essence and into a state of happiness, peace, and contentment.”
But my ego often gets bored with this content state and might just try to find a problem to solve by creating a problem to solve. And my son might try that tactic too. He might even take another turn hitting and still tell me to watch his great shot. And rather than trying to solve the problem by being in and accepting the moment, he might try and back away from the ball more – maybe he was too close to it. Or maybe it is the ball! That’s it. There is an “X” drawn on the ball. If that is pointed down, then the hit will be great.
My son did become more present in his game, and as he did this and wasn’t as concerned with the shot he was going to hit, his ball sailed much further down the beach. By the time he tired of his game, he was hitting like a mini-pro (through a mother’s eyes anyway).
For me, the hardest part about using this concept of staying present is the actual being present or staying present part.
Lake explains a good way to stay in the present moment. She says, “to stay there [in the moment], you have to keep accepting what’s happening, and that can be challenging because the mind comes into nearly every moment with a reason to leave it. You must say no to the mind again and again before its hold it loosened.”
My favorite advice or direction on how to stay present comes from the book, Women, Food and God by Geneen Roth (by the way, I said Women Food and God, not Eat Pray Love).
Roth says of the present moment, a thousand times a day you leave and a thousand times a day you come back.
When I read this, I thought it was the perfect way to explain how the mind works. I leave, I catch myself thinking about what I said to someone yesterday, I come back, I leave, I remember that I am snack mom at school next week (even though I have a reminder already set on my calendar), I come back.
The more I come back, according to Lake, the more I can stay. The longer I stay, the happier I am. The happier I am, the more I want to stay – the more I want to practice staying. The more I practice staying, the more I stay. I stay right here, right now.