I so often say these words to clients: Bring it to now.
There are so many brilliant ways to apply this phrase to step into greater ease, to drop torments, to teach yourself your life is manageable—in short, to set yourself free. Some examples follow, but I invite you to come up with your own, and lots of them. Apply this to anything!
How do I deal with the overwhelm of this huge, horrible challenging project (assignment, creation) I'm up against?
By dealing with the part of it that's before you right now. Don't deal with the whole thing from start to finish. Don't deal with tomorrow's part or next month's part or the part you have no idea about five steps down the line. DON'T EVEN CONSIDER THE OUTCOME. Deal with the one doable part before you here and now.
Sometimes, it's time to look at the whole, get the overview, map it all out on a timeline, define and delegate the parts, and so on. In that case, the one task of the moment is taking that bird's-eye view. Then and only then do you need to get out the whole kit and caboodle and spread it out for your perusal. But notice how often you do this out of turn, checking again to rev up the angst and to make gloomy-doomy predictions for a bad end you don't want! Bring it to now: do what's really up for you to do right now, and bring your best presence and greatest sense of ease to that endeavor.
What do I need to work out about my past?
Nothing—unless something from your past shows up right now. Then meet it head-on. Meet the pain, meet your thoughts that intensify the pain, ferret out anything you've decided about life, yourself, or other people because of that story you lived. (“Mind the Pain Body, Tend the Mind” is the substantial and super-practical third chapter of my book Scooch! that treats this topic.) I've come to phrase this, The undoing happens in the moment. That moment is now. All you need to process your pain well and untangle the stories it's tied to; all you need to live your life well (and joyfully!); all you need to get your needs met—it's all right here, right now.
How do I stop dreading the future?
Bring it to now. Is there something you don't like right now? Be with that. Be with it well. Be with it kindly, and don't tell yourself any lies. That's enough. When you're energized and excited about your life and all that's possible, all you'd like to create and connect to next—that's a fine now moment to take a little trip into the future, and then come on back to consider how to point yourself that way right now.
I'm so ashamed about … I'm so thrown off by …
When some small embarrassment or warped, oversized shame-thing grabs you (we've all got one, we've all had one activated in the not-so-distant past, maybe earlier today), come back to now. What are you in charge of now? What can you control (that's truly in your realm of control) right now? Can you forgive yourself more deeply right now? Can you soothe yourself like a kind, loving parent practicing unconditional love right now? Can you get out of someone else's head and what they saw and what they thought and what they think of you right now?
Bring it to now, and see how much kindness you can step into in this moment. Quit dragging yourself back to some shameful, painful, confused moment that does not (it absolutely does not) define who you are. I love how Byron Katie says that she loves being slapped, because it's over. The slap happens once and fades quickly, but we replay it again and again mentally, reliving the shame and all that a slap in that moment from that person before those witnesses means to us. She points out that the person who slapped us once turns out being much kinder to us than we are to ourselves, because we slap ourselves a hundred times over. Come back to now and what's actually happening now. Come back to the kindness of the moment.
How do I keep all the turmoil in the world or political process from getting the best of me?
Bring it to now. It's fine and good to have times you witness what's happening in the world, but never forget that the news isn't giving you a balanced view of things, and don't keep hanging out in the dismal spot it last took you to. Remember that the media displays the most provocative and sensational of what's happening out there, always slanted a certain way in the presentation. When you're not consciously seeking to be informed as best you can, get present.
Life is also a sink full of dishes, a walk with the dog, a moment to listen to your kid tell you something you wouldn't even care about for a moment if it weren't this particular human being doing the telling. Life is a good cup of coffee, a dance down the hallway, a moment of hard laughter over the purely absurd. Get present to the mundane beauty and magic that's right here, right now, and truly validate and value it: this is your personal life, the specific one you were given to tend, yours to mind in the moment with as much love and presence as you've got, even as the storms happening out there rage and simmer on.
Here's a bedtime trick for bringing it to now (and waking up in a good, clear space, and living a more powerful life):
Get out of tomorrow. If you must review what needs to be addressed tomorrow, do it before you even enter your bedroom, never mind climb into bed. Get out of today, but do that after you've spent a bit of time going over triumphs and completions large and small. Notice with appreciation all you did that was good, or brilliant, or even good enough. Take a moment to feel and really take in what you moved through and brought to the next step or even to a close. (Do you, like most people, deprive yourself of acknowledging and celebrating what you've accomplished?) You might also notice all the kindness that came your way. Byron Katie taught me to notice all that supports me. Start counting the supports that came to you today, and it may be hard to stop. Did clean water really just come out of a faucet because you turned a knob with minimum effort?
Once you've been with the day in that way, let it go. Come back to now. Find how the mattress supports you, how the pillow allows you to let go, how the blankets envelop you not just in warmth, but a sense of safety and well-being. Find how the darkness holds you. Imagine you're lying in the arms of love. Let go of every muscle you don't need (all of them) for holding it together right now and let yourself be held. Let go of thoughts, even if they won't let go of you, by not following them sequentially. Get off every thought train you catch yourself in. Come to love the unfinished thought! Use the breath to support you. Drop your awareness into your belly (not once, but again, again, again, now, now, and now) and watch the belly go up and down with the breath. Find what's soothing and kind and life-giving in your breath. There's nothing like connecting to the breath to help you connect to here and now.
love & blessings, Jaya