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Living In The Present Moment…

Many of my clients tell me that they often feel overwhelmed in their present lives. They feel that they are constantly focused on the past or the future, and are unable to process what is happening in the present.

Many clients seem to easily forget that they are in the present, as they are consumed with thinking about the past or future situations. They become absorbed within those ideas of the past or future as if they were actually there…reliving remembered emotions or preliving those emotions which are anticipated. Not only do they remove themselves from the only reality that they can directly experience (the “here and now”), but they are also continuing to suffer the pain of events that are either long in the past or may never actually happen in the future.

I work with my clients to help them learn to live in the present moment as much as possible. This does not mean that they are forbidden to think about the past or planning for what lies ahead, it rather means that when this type of thinking does occur, they are aware of it.

It is very easy to get caught in this web of “mental time travel” – and it can keep us from experiencing the present in a full sense. Many clients report to me that during the course of a given day, they are “thinking all over the place” and “constantly feeling overwhelmed with memories of the past and fears about the future.” This type of thinking takes you away from the present moment of awareness.

Often times, the patterns of the brain that get us stuck in unhappiness and depression are old, overlearned habits that get repeatedly accessed from memory and take control when we are not fully aware and present. In a sense, we have passed the controls over to “auto pilot” in the mind, creating the ideal conditions for these mechanisms in our subconscious to operate freely.

Simple awareness can help prevent our automatic thoughts from taking us down the same path over and over again…and responding with the same actions, which often bring about the same worsening feelings.

“In this way, little by little, moment by moment, life can slip by without us being fully here for it. Always preoccupied with getting somewhere else, we are hardly ever where we actually are and attentive to what is actually unfolding in this moment. We imagine we will be happy only when we are somewhere else, whenever and wherever that may be. As a consequence, we miss the quality of the unfolding moments in our day…if we are not careful, we may actually miss out on most of our life in this way.”

(Excerpt from “The Mindful Way Though Depression” by Mark Williams, John Teasdale, Zindel Segal and Jon Kabit-Zinn.)

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