Ask the Author: Question & Response
I have been trying to live in the present, but my thoughts wander either to the past and past hurts or to the future where a multitude of “what ifs” stand before me. I want to embrace the joy of the day, to see good things in what I am doing – now. How do I keep myself grounded in the moment? I am missing many moments thinking about the future or past. I have been through a mentally abusive marriage and made it. I have lost loved ones and loved pets. I have lost security of my home and money. I know that these lessons have made me stronger, but some days I don’t feel strong. Some days I feel sad and defeated. How do I move on to embrace life again?
– Shelley, Ontario, Canada
1. It is always okay to feel what you are feeling. The ego would have you judge yourself any time you’re feeling sad or defeated. When you play the ego’s game, you end up feeling bad for feeling bad. It is obvious that this game gets you nowhere you truly desire to be. But do not judge yourself for listening to the ego and falling back into the same old reactions, for this is how most of us have been trained to view and react to life.
2. Practice what you desire to experience. If you truly desire “to embrace the joy of the day, to see good things in what I’m doing,” then be on a conscious journey to bring these thoughts and feeling into the present moment. Consciously practice bringing them into your daily experiences until they become second nature. When you are feeling “sad or defeated,” you are practicing being in the vibrational state of these moods. You are actually unconsciously reinforcing these behaviors as natural and logical responses to the external stimuli. You are unwittingly creating electrical synaptic pathways in your brain that will make it easier and “more comfortable” for you to react this same way to external stimuli – with sad and defeated feelings. You are, in an unconscious manner, responsible for your reactions to these external stimuli. You are paving and maintaining your own synaptic highways.
Do not judge yourself for feeling what you are feeling, but remember that you have a lot more responsibility for your thoughts and reactions than you have been taught. So, my dear friend, practice. Practice experiencing peace of mind and joy. Practice gratitude. Practice embracing the joy of the day and seeing the good in all things. The more you do so, the smoother your journey will be.
3. Feel what you are feeling, but also analyze why you are choosing to focus on painful emotions, rather than what you truly desire. When you feel lost and defeated for more than a few days without truly questioning why, you repeat this reactionary pattern until it becomes second nature. But in truth, it is not your natural self reacting. You are simply reacting as you have in the past. Feeling sad and defeated is a programmed response to your environment. When you feel yourself having these feelings, you react the same way that you have in the past, and unconsciously strengthen this programming until it feels like second nature – like your natural response. But it is far from your natural response. My friend, be glad for this! For if you have unconsciously trained yourself, then you can consciously deprogram the thought patterns that you no longer desire to experience.
4. Understand the difference between how it feels to live in the present moment, and how it feels when you are not living in the present moment. When you are participating in the present moment, peace of mind, joy, compassion and unconditional love are your companions. When you are feeling stressed, angry, hurt, sad, defeated or regretful, you are substituting your unconscious past programming for the true gift of the present moment. Being in the present moment is an expression of your natural state of being. Because it is your natural state of being, then it must be, in its truest sense, an easy act. My friend, being in the present moment is a lot easier than the ego has programmed us to believe. During your day, practice asking yourself: “Am I in the present moment?” The simple act of bringing this question into your awareness will begin the deprogramming process.
5. Retrain yourself to be thankful and offer gratitude for every single moment. When you are participating in the present moment and you are experiencing peace of mind, joy, compassion and unconditional love, offer gratitude and be thankful – for this is a choice you are making. Be proud of yourself for choosing truth over illusion. When you are feeling stress, anger, hurt, sad, defeated or regretful, simply try to catch yourself sooner and sooner, then offer gratitude. Be thankful that through your growth and choice, you are spending less time in the illusion. Thank your “negative” emotions for they, in their own self-destructive way, are assisting you in spending less time with them and more time in gratitude and joy. The less time you invest in your “negative” emotions, the less you will experience them throughout your day – and in simple mathematical terms, the more time you will spend in the present moment.
Whenever you offer gratitude, you are lifting your vibrational state and aligning with your true self. Remember that all things which you now see happening are simply the physical reflections of your thoughts and feelings showing you the meaning you have attached to them. Thus, offer gratitude that the outside world is showing you your internal thoughts and feelings that you are accepting as real. This allows you to correct and deprogram those areas in your life that are “causing” you to feel hurt, sad and defeated. Bringing these thoughts to the surface allows light to shine on them and lets you see what you are focusing on, supporting and manifesting in your life.
6. Understand and transform the challenging thoughts and emotions you are experiencing. For example, if you feel resentment, don’t just allow it to continue as you have done in the past. Stop and ask yourself what good you are experiencing by choosing to hold onto and dwell on such an emotion. Like the late comedian Buddy Hackett once said, “Don’t carry a grudge. While you’re carrying the grudge, the other guy’s out dancing.” Instead of succumbing to the ego’s unconscious programming, stand up for yourself and make a choice to let go of the past and come into the present. Offer your past resentment and all concerns over to God, and allow God to dissolve them in His loving light. Become present, take a deep breath in, and then with a deep breath out, release them over to God. Then instead of continuing to use judgment, pray for all those who are involved in the situation. Pray for their well-being, health and happiness. As you do so, you will feel the shift and start experiencing what it truly feels like to live in the present moment. As your compassion, strength and kindness flow through you, you will feel God’s gratitude for your growth and development flowing through you. Do you smile when a toddler takes a step toward you, regardless of how wobbly it might be? Do you not think that God’s feelings for your efforts are any less loving and caring? Thus, instead of burying yourself in resentment, bask in God’s gratitude. This is the simple choice you are asked to make in the moment. The more you look at the challenges you’re experiencing, the more you will see how alike they are to one another. Then one day, you will realize that all challenges are really just one, with the same simple choice to make: God’s gratitude or supporting previous delusions. If you can take the above example and truly understand and experience this shift from illusion to truth, you will find that you can do this same thing with almost every other challenge. It becomes a simple shift from asking “Why?” and “Why me?” to saying “Thank you.” It is a simple shift from trying to force your ego’s plan for your life to trusting God’s plan for you. For knowingly or not, God’s plan for you and your highest will’s plan are one and the same.
The statement “Thy will be done,” is also saying “May my highest will be done.” They are one and the same. When you stop forcing and start flowing, your response will be one of gratitude and you will experience the present moment much more often. My dear friend, imagine your “what ifs” being replaced by “thank yous.” How much more peace of mind and joy would you experience in your daily existence? What new kind of example would you become to your fellow brothers and sisters? A simple choice is all that separates you from experiencing this. A simple choice is all that separates you from the person you think you are – to the person you truly want to be and already are.
7. Keep your mind open to practicing random acts of kindness. Random acts of kindness are a great way to stay in the moment. Congratulate yourself every time you take an extra step to be kind, loving and supportive during your day. From blessing people when they sneeze – to waving at a child and having him smile. Just yesterday, I was walking over to the music store and saw a toddler looking at me coming toward him. Since I am about five times his size, he stared at me with a look of concern. Then, as I came close to passing him by, I smiled and waved at him. His feeling and facial expression shifted immediately and he gave me a wave and a big, radiant smile back. That event took maybe five to ten seconds, but it was a beautiful moment and experience. There are hundreds of opportunities throughout your day to recall and come back into the present moment. From giving a kind compliment to a coworker or family member – to making that call you have been putting off. From opening the door for someone – to allowing another car into your lane. Anytime you are offering kindness, anytime you are being compassionate, anytime you are being nonjudgmental – you are participating in the present moment. Practice kindness and pay attention to when you could have been more kind but weren’t. Learn from that so that next time you can be. Do this practice over and over again, and it will become more natural to you, until one day it simply becomes an extension of the truth in you. Today, I missed saying “God bless you” when a person sneezed, then I caught my miss and promised myself to become more aware of it next time around. To me, it was not so much about preparing for a future event. It was more about receiving a better understanding of who I want to be in the present and how I want to physically manifest that experience to my fellow brothers and sisters. Practicing random acts of kindness is a simple exercise you can do throughout your day. The more you do it, the more present you will feel, and the more your true self will shine through.
8. Practice letting go of expectations for how you believe things will or should be. When you wake up in the morning, spend five minutes in meditation asking to be available to the present moment. Then release and let go of all the expectations you have for your day. Instead of worrying about what something or someone will be like, stop yourself when you are doing so, and remind yourself that whatever happens is going to happen. Remember that God loves and supports you, and that whatever takes place is for your own growth and development. Be thankful for every moment of your day, for every moment shows you where you are within your heart and mind.
9. Practice listening. So many times during the day, we interrupt each other, unconsciously thinking that what we have to say is more important than what someone else is saying. Truly listen to what someone is saying. This is a great practice for learning how to stay more present in the moment. You get so much more from a conversation when you truly pay attention to it. Don’t concern yourself with what your response will be, just let whatever flow. Your brother or sister will greatly appreciate your efforts. Also practice listening to God. So many times when we sit, pray or meditate, we ask and ask, but rarely do we end such practices with a few minutes of just listening to God and feeling His peaceful presence around us. Pray or meditate, be silent and listen, then offer gratitude for your time together. As any good friend appreciates you listening to him, so too does God.
10. Make peace of mind and joy your goals for all the decisions you make today. You will experience what you choose to focus on. If you wish to stay in the present moment more, then continuously make peace of mind and joy your goals throughout the day. For example, before you go to meet someone, above all else, make peace of mind your end goal for that interaction. Make this interaction a kind of exercise where you: choose not to judge the person you’re with; choose not to criticize yourself or others; and do your absolute best to keep the conversation at its highest level. If the person is being critical of others, do not join in. Instead, hold your brother or sister in light, and say a silent prayer for him or her. If your friend becomes sarcastic or says hurtful things, do not join in or feed the negativity. Instead, look for ways you may both assist the individuals that are being talked about. Keep reminding yourself throughout the encounter: Peace of mind and joy are my goals in this situation. Do this again and again until it becomes second nature.
11. It is impossible to judge a brother or sister without the past. All judgment, sarcasm and criticism are learned behaviors. They are not part of your true essence. Whenever you find yourself dwelling on such thoughts, you are not experiencing the present moment. But do not judge yourself or others for doing so. Instead, catch yourself and be grateful that you did. For the quicker and more frequently you do so, the less time you will experience drowning in these emotions. Be grateful that you have the wisdom to undo what you have done. Be grateful that you will be spending increasingly more time in the place you truly desire to be. Be grateful that the truth has set you free.
I encourage you to continue to make peace of mind and joy your goals for more and more of your daily activities. These small daily victories will further inspire and reinforce that this is what you truly desire. Do not be hard on yourself. When you judge yourself, you simply shift the focus from the present moment – to places you have already been, but no longer desire to be. My friend, remember that whatever you choose to focus on will appear more frequently in your experience. If you focus on judging yourself for being inconsistent that inconsistency will have a greater focus and will play a larger role in your experience. Simply allow yourself to refocus and realign your thinking to a state of mind that says: I am peaceful and harmonious. As you release yourself into the safety of this flow, the memory of the state of peace and harmony will embrace and encompass you. You will recognize it, and experiencing peace and harmony will no longer be difficult or unfamiliar.
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