My first act of free will is to recognise that I have it.
Each moment is an opportunity to re-start and change your life. I’m not kidding. That may sound a bit exaggerated, but you can choose at any moment to approach things in a new way. BUT, the caveat here is that in order to recognize that choice, you must learn to be present.
Here is a super-simple 3 step process to help you do that:
Take a breath and notice where you are. Drop your shoulders. Soften your gaze and your voice. Notice any tension in the body and let it go. Let go of whatever is inhibiting the breath. Settle down, take a walk. Learn a couple of tools to help you relax both in short term and long term. Get to know what your breath and body feel like when relaxed so you can identify when they are not. The breath and the mind are intimately related, so when your breath is settled without obstruction in its natural flow, the mind also settles into a state of ease.
Release the struggle, in other words, whatever your mind is grasping onto. Let go of whatever is causing you to get uptight: thoughts, memories, emotions, fixation, rumination. Drop your agenda. Let go of a sense of urgency. Release your tension, fear, anger, agitation, anxiety.
Have you ever had the experience of driving several blocks, getting so your destination and not remembering which route you took? Rumination steals your attention so you act on autopilot, taking you out of the present moment. So when you notice you are caught up in your thoughts, let them go. Allow the thoughts or emotions to simply dissolve back into your awareness of the present moment.
Return to the present moment. Return your awareness to whatever is happening now. Return to your senses, literally, to the sounds, smells, sights and sensations in the body. Observe your environment. Take in the details of the current situation, and tune in to any subtle cues being emitted. Notice your insights. Check to see if your intuition wants to tell you anything.
So stop. Listen to the moment.
These three steps provide a framework from which to view experience; they continually orient you back to the present. You can do this on retreat, or if you can’t take that kind of time to devote to attending to your inner health, you can do this on a daily basis. Set an intention to check in throughout the day. Or, if you are like so many of us, stretched to fit in all your daily tasks, then you can apply this process to the moment between breaths. Sort of like a micro-mini retreat.
Presence is finding the balance between the effort of focus, and the utter release of relaxation. When you are present, you are naturally in tune with your environment. When you are in tune, you stop fighting against the flow and learn to move with, instead of against the current. Life-saving advice for anyone caught in a rip-tide.
Relax, Release, Return
Whether it’s the split second between each breath, or a potent moment when you have a big breakthrough or a realization that changes the course of your life, this process applies. Relax your grip, release tension, return attention to your intention.
You can practice these 3 steps as a way of getting back on course, both in a larger sense of your life’s trajectory, but also on a moment to moment basis. Go through these 3 steps each time you recognize that your attention has strayed. You can tell this has happened because you find yourself struggling. I can tell you from experience that when you don’t know what to do, long or short term, this 3-fold process will guide you to your inner wisdom to help you make your way forward. Otherwise, if you try to make something happen without a clear idea of what wants to happen, you’ll just end up making froth.
These 3 Steps Could Change Your Life.
Our lives are made up of moments. Big changes start with one single moment of inspiration. So next time you catch yourself struggling, you don’t need to count to 10. Just count to 3.