THE TWELVE DAILY EMOTIONAL FITNESS TRAINING EXERCISES
Exercise Number Twelve: Observe the now.
There is a way that nature speaks, that land speaks. Most of the time we are simply not patient enough, quiet enough, to pay attention to the story.
Linda Hogan, Native American Poet
Yesterday is gone. The past cannot be changed. What was good in the past can and should be savored. The hurts of the past should be honored for their lessons and then laid to rest. The future has not yet come. Worrying about what will be is useless. As the humorist Mark Twain noted: “I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” Making thoughtful plans for your future is reasonable. Worrying about what might happen is not. Do what you can and then let the future take care of it self.
Some will suggest Being the now. ” Good advice and transcendent—what many call “In the Flow.” Good when it happens, but ” Observing the now” serves a different purpose. It ask you to be aware of now, know it, don’t seek to change it, but observe it.
The purpose of this exercise is two-fold. First, it is to remind you all we have is now—even as we take a breath now becomes then. Each moment of now is all life guarantees us. This is an exercise that can and should be practiced off and on through out the day to appreciate life.
The second use of the exercise is to quiet anxiety, stress, and worry. Most negative stress is like a rip tide, riding it out saves you, fighting can see you swept out to sea. Milton Erickson, a master therapist, used observing the now frequently to help others deal with life’s struggles. He describes helping his very young son who cut his hand to focus not his fear at the sight of something red pouring out of the cut, but to observe the blood: How bright it was, how beautiful, how fast it flow, how it changed color.
Once when Daniel had fallen and cut his head and we were sitting in the emergency room and the doctor came at Dan with a large needle and the lying words “This won’t hurt.” I said it “It will hurt more, but then hurt less.” I asked Dan to rate his pain and tell me “More or less.” The doctor wasn’t happy, but Dan didn’t have to be held to have the Novocaine injected. The doctor was asking him to focus on the future, I asked him to “Observe the now.”
Any one who has had Lamaze training is being asked to focus on the now, their breath, and also on the ebb and flow of the pain. All to say this is an exercise that builds the ability to deal with hurt as well as to enjoy life’s better moments.
Here is how to Observe the now:
- Take a Calming Breath
- Stop for just a minute to focus your thoughts on your breath, on how each breath is different from the one before.
- Breathe in and notice how different that feels from breathing out.
- Breathe normally and notice how each breath is just a little different from the one before it and the one after it.
- Enjoy the wonder of being able to breathe. Give thanks.
- Now let whatever is be. Breathe and observe your thoughts. Don’t change or try to change anything. Just breathe and observe.
- Let thoughts and feeling come and go.
- Breathe and watch.
- When you feel you are ready to end this exercise, take a Calming Breath.
Observing the now can serve to let go of the day and prepare yourself for sleep. In fact it works so well for some that they often don’t stay awake long enough to take a final calming breath. Not a problem. You can finish the exercise in your dreams.
There is only one time that is important – NOW! It is the most important time because it is the only time we have any power over
Leo Tolstoy, Russian Author
It is only when we truly know and understand that we have a limited time on earth and that we have no way of knowing when our time is up that we will begin to live each day to the fullest, as if it were the only one we had.
Elizabeth Kubler-Ross, American Author
We must not allow the clock and calendar to blind us to the fact that each moment is a miracle and a mystery.