If I asked you what you feel in your body right now, at this very moment, you would probably tell me what hurts. “My neck and back are a little sore,” or, “There is some pain in my right thigh,” or quite possibly, “My left foot is achy, but, you know, that’s always there so it doesn’t matter.” But, what if you weren’t in pain at all? What would you answer?
Typically, when I ask clients what they feel, I get the laundry list of complaints (a totally valid response), or I get a very nondescript answer like, “I feel pretty good. Nothing hurts, so, yeah, I guess I feel fine.”
Hmm. This is a problem, and I mean a problem in a BIG way.
Pain, although it’s really annoying and frustrating, serves a very important purpose. It brings us back into our bodies. Most of us are just drifting along, amputated from all sensation from the neck down. If we don’t feel pain, we don’t feel anything. We just assume our heart is still beating, our lungs are still taking in air, the blood is flowing through our veins and we probably still have all our limbs.
After all, you’re still alive, right? Everything’s probably fiiiiine. No need to check in.
But I really disagree. I think that a huge part of the depression, dissatisfaction, fear and frustration that most people experience comes from disconnection from the self. We’re looking outside ourselves for satisfaction and diving deep into the black hole of consumption. “If I just had a bigger TV…a faster car….a shiner living room…then I could be happy! For realz!”
We’re in search of the magic bullet to fill the void that lives inside of us. We’ve been taught that any sensation at all is evil and should be squashed, but that just makes us numb out into sort of a void of nothingness, a living death.
I truly, truly, deeply and with all my heart and soul believe that each and every one of us is seeking an experience of aliveness. We want to feel as though we are truly here, but it’s so easy to become a walking shell, mindlessly and heartlessly going through the motions everyday, showing up at work and doing what needs to be done without any joy, satisfaction or presence.
But you’re not gonna get it from buying more stuff. In fact, you’re not going to find it in weight loss, it’s not hiding behind a pile of money and those bigger and shinier gadgets just serve to mask the gaping void lurking behind them.
Aliveness – that juicy feeling of total satisfaction with your self and your life – can only come from being incredibly present in the here and now, totally connected to your body. Anxiety, fear and depression come from living too far in the past or the future, from fretting about the what-ifs and might-happens.
I know this intimately. For much of my life, I suffered from paralyzing panic attacks. I used to think there was something wrong with me – I even let doctors try to medicate me for a while (it really didn’t work…just created more problems). Finally, I discovered that managing panic and depression was as simple as eating a clean, healthy diet, getting plenty of movement everyday (read: exercise) and staying super present.
When you find yourself freaking out and flying out of yourself, here’s how you bring yourself back into the present moment in a flash:
Start by taking a few deep breaths. Breathe into your lungs, high in your rib cage. Let your shoulders drop down as you breathe in.
Tell yourself that, in this moment, everything is okay. You still have two arms and two legs. There is plenty of food. You are safe, warm and dry. There are people who love you. There is enough money in the bank – this one can be a trip. If you think there isn’t enough, check in on that. You probably have just what you need for today, for this moment. Don’t worry about tomorrow, or even tonight. Those will take care of themselves. Right now, you have enough.
And that brings me to YOU ARE ENOUGH. This is such a hard one to get because we live in a culture of not enough – we’re never rich enough, thin enough, pretty enough, tall enough, cute enough, successful enough…the list goes on and on and on and on. But right now, in this moment, you are enough. Give this moment everything you’ve got and you’ll be shocked at how powerful you really are.
Okay, your turn! What do you do to bring yourself back to the present moment? Leave me a comment below and let me know. Oh, and if you like this post, use the many buttons to share it with your friends on Facebook and Twitter.
Dave E Wilkes says
That’s a great post Sukie.
And this topic is probably one of the most important things we need to get right in our lives…..
…. how to live in the present.
After all, yesterday has gone and tomorrow is a mile away. We only have right now, this minute.
Probably my favourite way to get myself back into the present is to – first of all – notice that I am not living in the present. And once I am aware of that, I begin to think of something that I am grateful for in my life right now.
It may be that my health is good. That my wife loves me. That my dog is a great companion for me (all I need to do is the think of her eyes looking at me to get that feeling). Or it may be how lucky I am to be living in the countryside of Southern Spain with its beautiful views and wonderful weather.
I just focus upon one thing that I can feel grateful for right now and I make that image strong and bright and wallow in the feeling it creates within me.
And then I am back here, in the here-and-now again
Your post just arrived at the best time, because when I started reading it I was already away and thinking about something that wouldn’t be happening yet for a week or so. But right now, I’ve got my balance again.
I am back here.
And, just in case you are wondering, it was my dog’s eyes that did it for me this time!
Thanks for that….
What a thoughtful response! Thank you, Dave!
Also, I just have to say…you live in Southern Spain? JEALOUS! Whereabouts do you live? I spent a year in Cadiz and looooved it.
Dave E Wilkes says
Hi Sukie, Cadiz is a beautiful place. I’ve visited there a few times.
At the moment I am holidaying in Nerja on the Costa Tropical but live just south of Granada in Andalucia.
If ever you are out this way again you must be sure to come visit!
I absolutely will! Enjoy your vacation 🙂
I love this post, Sukie. It’s exactly what I’ve been practicing the last 4 weeks. To bring myself back to the present moment I either take a deep breath or say a silent gratitude prayer. Thanks for sharing this post! It’s awesome.
Woohoo! Good for you, Shay! Breathing is an especially awesome way to stay present because you can’t be elsewhere in place or time when you’re focusing on your breath.
Linda Mullin Welch says
I fly out of my body alot staying present is work for me I am happy to read you are free from anxiety attacks and depression I am not there yet…..I am working on keeping my diet clean and am on day 3 of no sugar…I need find some movement(exercise) that I enjoy and will do daily Thanks your post came as a gentle reminder to me today to FEEL.
Great, Linda! Glad to hear your cleaning out the sugar. Have you tried dancing? It’s hard not to love it with all the music and fun.
I love this post Sukie. I too had to learn to stay in my body, and it is a never-ending, always-deepening learning cycle.
If I am ‘out’, I literally call my attention back to myself. Back from earlier conversations, from other people, from the past, from the future. I bring it all back into my body in the here & now. Then I imagine a waterfall going from top to down through my body, and I follow that waterfall until I am aware of my whole body and then I make/visualise a nice firm grounding chord between my spine and the earth to let go of any old emotions, thoughts, energies that I don’t need anymore.
Oh and btw, dancing is great for being present too. I’ve loved to dance all my life and only now I realise how helpful that has been!
Ben Quigley says
I lay in the bath, no light and breath, emptying my mind of thought, just listening to breathing. I have gone to other planets before! Great post, Ben