The present moment is all we truly have in this life, but so many of us find ourselves constantly living in the memories of the past or the fantasies of the future. In his book “Journey into Power”, Baron Baptiste outlines 8 principles for stepping up to the edge and evoking change. One of these principles breaks down this idea of living in the present versus living in the past or future with one simple phrase:
“We are either now here or nowhere.”
We all get caught up in our thoughts from time to time—most of us probably do on a daily basis. We start thinking about the past: what we’ve done wrong, what we regret, what we wish we could have done differently. Then we start getting trapped in the loop of stories we create about our future, regardless of the fact that they aren’t actually truth. These are the incessant thoughts that are as automatic to our minds as circulating blood is to our hearts.
Looking at the past or towards the future isn’t always a bad thing. It can be nice to reflect on fond memories, and exciting to think about the possibilities that lie ahead of us.
The problem here is that these moments aren’t real. The past has already happened; there is nothing we can do now to change it. As far as the future goes, we don’t truly know what is going to happen, and the fantasies we are looping in our head aren’t real—no matter how real they may seem.
When we allow our thoughts to take us away from right here, right now, we are taking ourselves out of reality, into a space that doesn’t even exist. We aren’t here now—we are nowhere.
The past and future only bring about feelings. Regardless of whether they are good feelings or bad feelings, they don’t do us much good. Growth and evolution only happen in the present moment. It is in the present moment that we can build our physical and mental strength, learn to trust ourselves, and fully embrace the possibilities of right now.
Being fully in the present moment is a skill that needs to be practiced. There will be times when you escape from the now and find yourself in the stories of the past or future. But in those moments when you are fully present, you will be able to build your strength, enrich your mind, harness your trust in your abilities, and work through any obstacles or pressures that are holding you back from your goals. In each moment that we are present, we have an opportunity to evolve and grow.
Naturally, this is all much easier said than done. But if you are looking to access the power of the present and really connect to the moment that is in front of you, there is a tool that you can use, one that is readily available at any given time: your breath.
Focusing on your breathing is one of the best ways to bring yourself to the present, no matter how detached you feel from it.
Whether you are in a yoga class, meditating at home, or simply walking through a grocery store, your breath is the key to connecting to the present. Next time you feel yourself drifting away from the present, bring yourself back to your breath, and you’ll find your way back to the powerful now.