Okay, so life isn’t all roses. We know that, right? Some days a sack of coal just gets dumped on your doorstep.
And yep, we have to deal with it.
Of course we all know that the most effective way to deal with whatever we’re experiencing is to stay present, stay in the now. Because that’s what brings the clarity and calmness needed to find solutions to the issue.
But when in the midst of trauma, from the smallest to the most tragic, sometimes even figuring out how to live in the present moment seems quite elusive indeed.
I mean, when I have a flat, I just want it fixed and to be home, you know?
Unfortunately, my tire doesn’t get changed until I call AAA and wait. But how cool to have them come deal with it!
So let’s address how to be present in the moment so we can get through whatever mess consciously, and in the best form.
I know when crap happens, negative emotion arises. And many times, our first response is to realize that it’s negative, and try and quash it. Because we’re all positive thinkers, right?
But stuffing negative emotions never works now, does it. We can all recount anecdotal evidence for that one. What that brings is denial.
And the only way to really get through an emotion is, well, through it. So give voice to it. Accept it. Do as in Right Use of Will and scream at the sky if you need to. Which will then let it out.
Something bad happens and we instantly place judgement on it, or worse, ourselves.
“Things never work out for me.”
“Crap just follows me.”
“I’ll never make it in x, y, or z.”
Really? Do you know this for an absolute fact? Can you say this with 100% accuracy?
If you can, wow, that crystal ball must be truly effective! Send it my way J
Because the truth is, we can’t be entirely, 100% sure about much of anything in this life. And if something isn’t 100% true, then why are we banking our emotions on it?
You know, honestly, everybody gets that sack of coal now and then. Shocking, isn’t it? It’s not just you?
We all have to deal with stuff we’d prefer not to. And just knowing that others have done so, and gotten through, makes me feel better. Doesn’t it you?
Of course breathing and meditation are part of all of this, but in the midst of turmoil, often taking 20 minutes to sit in the lotus position and meditate isn’t in the cards.
But breathing always is though. And with the in and out of the breath, an internal stillness comes.
And then, watch your emotions. See them as if from outside of yourself. Third person works great for me: There is Susan feeling all stressed again over something she can’t control.
This isn’t a judging session. But rather, a non-judgmental awareness of what you’re seeing/doing/feeling in any moment in time.
I’m always amazed at the clarity that brings me.
That’s the last thing you want to do in this situation, right? I mean, seriously, folks, we have real issues here!
But funny thing—if you focus your attention even for a second on something else, you not only get the benefit of distraction, but that gives your brain a break as well.
Often, an instant is all that wonderful brain needs to refocus on the present moment, and find solutions to the task at hand.
As Einstein said, “You cannot solve a problem with the same mind that created it.”
No matter what’s going on, there’s something to be learned from it. Something you can gain, whether it’s mastery of a task, insight into a relationship, or even learning how you deal with things by habit, rather than consciously.
“I’m wise enough, Lord!” we often say.
Then again, if we were all that wise I’m fairly sure we’d have evaporated into what’s next by now.
We can always learn, and learning is always a good thing.
I just had an interesting validation of this point. I decided that my two-year-old Lab wasn’t going to make it in my breeding program. That’s always such a difficult decision, because it means the loss of all that potential, of all that time and investment in her.
So when I had her spayed, we found that her uterus, even at that young age, was filled with edema and paper thin. It bled everywhere the vet touched. And she had some metritis as well.
Which is scary, especially for a girl so young. Had I thought she was going to work out, I’d have shown her and ultimately bred her, and with that sort of uterus, I could have lost her by doing so. Or, she could have had an infection even without being bred, and once the cervix was closed, I could have lost her.
I cannot express how blessed I felt bringing her home from that surgery . . .
Yes, there is always a blessing.
Times of trouble and trauma are not the time to reconsider if what you’re doing is your true path. If your life is working. If you should choose another way.
You’re already filled with enough angst to deal with, and any major life decisions at this point will not be in your best interest.
All sages, therapists, counselors agree on this point. There’s a reason the truism exists that says when you lose someone very close, don’t many any life decisions for at least a year.
You have to get through the trauma first.
So in times of that, just focus on where you are. Then take the next step. Then the next.
You can decide whether your life is on track or not down the road. Because that decision will always be there, no?
So even in the worst of times, we can not only stay in the now, but learn how to enjoy the present moment as well.
It’s worth it to do so, isn’t it?
As Tennessee Williams said, “Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going.”
Award-winning writer and editor Susan Mary Malone is the author of the novels, "I Just Came Here to Dance" and "By the Book," as well as four co-authored nonfiction books, including "What’s Wrong with My Family?" and many published short stories. Forty-plus Malone-edited books have now sold to traditional publishers.