Until recently, most of my life has been spent either in the past or in the future.
Brain in Past: What if this super embarrassing past thing gets brought up again?
Brain in Future: I’m having so much fun now, but it will be over so quickly!
One of my yoga teachers told my class, “Be here or be nowhere.” Because if you’re not in the present, right now at this moment, you are either in the past, which doesn’t exist anymore, or in the future, which doesn’t exist yet.
I decided I’d like to be here and not nowhere. Now that I’m consciously trying to bring my awareness to the now, I am amazed at how damn difficult it is.
Usually it goes something like this:
I notice I’m dwelling on something from long ago that’s causing me psychological pain now. I stop myself and think, “Self, why are you remembering this shitty thing that has nothing to do with right now?”
Then, I take a few deep inhales and exhales. I become aware of my body. Maybe I giggle a little bit because I realize I’m a person (See: “Whoa, I’m a Person!“). Then I let my guard down, and before I even realize it, my brain floats all the way back to the blacktop playground in 8th grade, or some other irrelevant, disturbing place.
Frustration kicks in: “Why is it so hard to be present? I ask myself. “Why can’t I control my whirling brain?”
Then the self-deprecation: “Stupid brain. I hate you. Stupid Kelsey. Always drifting away.”
And finally, back to step one. Then repeat.
Why do I torture myself just to be present? Because even if it’s just for five minutes an hour, being present means soaking in so many cool details of existence. If I’m with Nick and my friends and family, being present means realizing how freaking awesome and hilarious they are and how lucky I am to have them. If I’m in nature, being present means I’m able to marvel at the tiny grooves in a tree or the vastness of the night sky. If I’m by myself, being present means I can learn how my brain works and how to bring myself to a happy place.