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The power of the moment is not a new concept in the world of spirituality and personal development. We constantly hear about the importance of getting back into the moment in order to live better, but the question everyone asks is: Is it really realistic? Is it possible? And if it is, how do we get there? Let's first demystify what it means to live a little more in the moment in a world that demands that we live at 100 miles per hour and perform in all areas of our lives. Let's also look at some concrete strategies for experiencing the "here and now" and getting the most out of it.
The concept of the present moment comes from mindfulness, a meditative practice that originated in Buddhist principles and was later brought to our modern Western societies by Dr. John Kabat-Zinn. Dr. Kabat-Zinn founded a stress clinic in the United States and has developed recognized programs for stress reduction through mindfulness, mindfulness being also the name given to a form of meditation. Mindfulness is a state of awareness that results from intentionally paying attention without judgment to the experience that unfolds moment by moment. When we observe the present moment, we are practicing or rather living what mindfulness is. We are in meditation. The observations of Dr. John Kabat-Zinn and many other studies, hundreds in fact, show us that Mindfulness has measurable benefits on physical and mental health. This is why we now hear regularly about the importance of coming back to the present moment and why mindfulness meditation is gaining in popularity.
The benefits of including more moments of presence in your life are numerous. From the many studies that have been done observing participants in Mindfulness-based stress reduction programs, such as those of Dr. John Kabat Zinn for example, we can deduce that this approach promotes the regulation of biometric parameters of stress, improves emotional management, increases concentration and memory and more!
There are no negative effects from simply paying attention to the moment we are experiencing. However, if we have states of sadness or anxiety, being intentionally aware of them may momentarily make them seem more intense. This is because the human brain naturally tries to avoid negative emotions. To do this, we put in place a wide range of strategies: Eating, loitering on social networks, shopping, drinking alcohol, working too much, etc. No one wants to suffer, that's just the way it is, but the more we work to avoid anxiety, the more it comes back, and in force too!
Visualization: Observe yourself from the outside
Here, let's take the time together to observe the moment unfolding second by second. If necessary, close your eyes and observe, without judging, as if you were a small bird having the privilege of flying above you or imagine that you are sitting in a theater and that you are witnessing from the outside, the play that is the life you are living right now. What do you see? What does this play that is your life look like, in the present moment?
If this is not very concrete and still difficult to grasp, you can start by using the senses. These are powerful doors to the observation of the present moment. For example, you can meditate on the sounds around you. Bring your attention to the sounds. Observe without judging them. Are they high-pitched? Low? Long? Short? Observe the silence between the sounds if it exists.
Finally, one of the easiest ways to access the present moment is through conscious breathing. You can do the exercise for example by observing the sensations of the air entering and leaving the nostrils or the movement of the belly that inflates and deflates with each breath.
It is important to know that it is in the nature of humans to think about the future. Most of our thoughts would be statistically negative and anxiety-provoking, a normal mechanism of the mind, of the survival instinct constantly scanning for potential sources of future danger. If today, we don't really have to fight for our survival, the sources of "danger" take various forms: Traffic in the morning, a difficult conversation with a colleague at work, the idea of not finishing one's task list. Our brains create new sources of danger in the smallest things from our modern, overly comfortable societies.
What's more, apart from the pathological anxiety that is detrimental to a person's functioning, thinking about the future is far from being a bad thing in itself. In fact, setting goals and pursuing meaningful goals for oneself is essential to avoid depression and anxiety. This is even proven by science. Finding a balance between the present and the future could therefore be translated as follows: Knowing how to appreciate what is while being able to put in place the necessary actions in the "here and now" to build the future.