Lately I have been putting more effort into being present in the moment. It seems easy enough but I have a longstanding habit of obsessive thinking and a mind that likes to wander, and sometimes its a struggle.
The practice of avoiding the current moment actually did serve a useful purpose for me when I was growing up. First, it allowed me to tolerate unpleasant situations over which I had no control, like when my mom was having a particularly bad day with her delusions. I would sit barracaded in my room, daydreaming and drawing pictures of what I wanted to look like when I grew up and where I would live, or pretending to be Cher. As time went by, I learned how to “read the room” and spent a great deal of energy trying to avoid danger and imagining what could happen depending on my mom’s mood. This pattern evolved into feeling guilty about what I may have done to set her off, and fear about what I needed to do to avoid setting her off in the future. Pretty soon, my fears were intruding upon my every waking moment.
My obsessive worries about the past and future kept me pretty sick for quite some time, and recovery came slowly based on certain principles of living that were characteristic of my encounters with people who shared their experiences with recovery. The common theme, whether based on a 12-step program, religious practices, spirituality, or cognitive therapy, was to be present in the moment, surrendering the need to control outcomes.
It isn’t like I can snap my fingers and turn off my thinking. I still have many days that the worrying part of my brain gets the better of me, usually when I am really tired; but I continue to strive to learn about and practice these basic principles, relying on many different sources for inspiration and encouragement. Sometimes I get discouraged and wish I didn’t have to put so much effort into what seems to be easy for other people whom I imagine breeze through life without introspection. Yet I’ve also learned to appreciate and embrace the richness that all of this searching has brought into my life.
After all of these years of searching, I have learned that…..
this moment may be as good as it gets
or it may be as bad as it gets
However I label it, I will do my best to fully emerse myself into it