On Remaining Present

As someone who has lived most of her life dealing with anxiety and depression, the importance of presence is just now starting to really sink in. I have heard time and time again that the key to happiness is to remain present and to enjoy the moment. I would concentrate really hard on enjoying the moment and then 2 minutes later my mind is back worrying about what I have to do, what I have failed to do, all the reasons I am not good enough blah, blah, blah.

Here is the thing though. As many times as I have heard about the importance of staying present I never really noticed just how much letting myself get lost in thought is messing me up. I’ve heard that people often get depressed because they are stuck in the past, and that anxiety often comes as a result of worrying about the future, but I have never really stopped meditate on this.  I do both things without even realizing it, and I am guessing that this is why I’ve been going back and forth between anxiety and depression for years now. 

Today, I was feeling particularly listless (as I often do when I start feeling the depression set in) and then I decided that I had to do something. After some thought, I realized that all I wanted to do was to give myself a break and not do anything for at least a couple of minutes. And so I did. In the midst of all the work I was trying to get through, I stopped what I was doing and went for a walk outside, allowing myself to not think about anything. I just walked.

What happened is that after a couple of minutes, I began to notice the cool wind hit my face, how beautiful the cloudy day was, and how nice it feels to move my body. I was hearing the birds chirping about, the cars swooshing by, and before I knew it I found myself completely refreshed and relaxed. I was not thinking about anything but what was going on around me in the walk. I was no longer lost in thought. 

The power of just stoping what you are doing (physically and mentally) is so powerful. I can’t remember the last time I have felt this relaxed in a while.  I managed to practice presence by simply making the conscious choice to give myself a break from all the needless thinking and worrying and just let go, even if it was just for a couple of minutes, and not think about what has been upsetting me. I refused to let myself worry about school, work, and all the things I have not managed to do in my life and came back from the walk feeling this sense of peace knowing that the world will not fall apart if I don’t complete this or that. I will not be a failure if I get a B instead of an A in my classes. I will not be a failure if I don’t get a perfect audit at work.

I realized that my health and my happiness is more important than anything else. I need to take good care of myself in order to be able to care for and love the people I care about in my life. And so the lesson of just how powerful choosing to be present has been shown to me. I’am not expecting it to be easy for me to do so from now on. All I know is that having noticed the huge difference it has made for me emotionally today, I will definitely practice it a lot more often until I can make it a habit. 

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