When was the last time you truly stopped and started living in the moment? I’m not talking about the things we do on a regular basis to make us “stop”. Things that do not count as a true stop are: going to bed and sleeping, a 15 min break in the day, eating, watching TV, reading or finally taking a breath once you get your kids to their soccer game. It also does not count if you plan a jam packed vacation with something planned every single day, I have been there and done that, I can tell you that is not a break it is an adventure. Usually you need a vacation from your vacation in this instance.
What I’m talking about is having a day where you had nothing planned at all, you wake up and just do the things that come to your mind that day. Nothing to do with work or scheduled appointments, where you literally had absolutely nothing to do that day. To be honest with you, I do not remember the last time I had a day like this even during the times right now with living through isolation and not working, somehow I have found a way to still be working on something. Blogs, YouTube channel, videos, Instagram posts, recipes, gardening, you name it, I have found it to keep myself busy.
Staying busy isn’t necessarily a bad thing, it helps to keep us structured and in a routine, but when you are only keeping yourself busy, this can take a toll on your body.
It is always very difficult to just stop; stop doing and start being. Stopping allows you to take in the true beauty of life, without feeling like you need to produce something or tend to someone else’s needs. Stopping may allow you to see the little things in life that everyone passes by everyday but never takes any notice to it because we are all just so busy. Things like that mural on the wall of the coffee shop you go to everyday, the different bark on a tree trunk that you walk by everyday, or noticing just how tired you have been the last few months while being too busy to notice it.
In the Western world, we value our work more than we cherish the time spent with a loved one. If you think about it, it’s really quite sad. All we do is work, work, work and then work some more. We are all guilty of exactly this, we make productivity our priority of everyday, this then does not leave much room for living in the now because we try to fit in as much as we can into one 24 hour day. What happens when we do not finish everything on the list for that day?
We scrutinize and bully ourselves into thinking that we did not accomplish anything that day, when in reality, we did. You think to yourself: I got ready and went to work, got only 90 of the 100 projects I set out for myself today done and had a busy day running around. When maybe we are looking at this all wrong, what would happen if we started celebrating the small victories of each day? Instead, think to yourself: I woke up today, brushed my teeth (or at least I hope you did), went for a 15 minute walk or walked/biked to work instead of driving, I went the whole day not thinking one negative thought, I stretched for 5 minutes, and finally sat down to meditate today. Why don’t we ever feel happy for the little things in each day?
It’s a bit ironic that we work to enjoy the simple things in life and yet here we are working our buns off and never taking a break. To live a full and peaceful life, we need to stop and look inside ourselves and remember exactly what it is that lights the fire within us. This is the big part of having a mindfulness practice everyday, it allows you to have that 15 or 20 minutes in the day to truly stop what you are doing and observe your breath or just how busy your mind is with all of the thoughts running through it. If you do not have 15-20 minutes, try 5 minutes to start.
So I’m going to ask you to stop and consider the last time you truly stopped what you were doing to just be in the moment. If taking a staycation is not an option for you right now, here are some things you can do to live in the moment each day – no technology aloud.
- Take a day off and go to a park or museum.
- Make a one day self care plan, think of it as a spa day at home. It can include naps, mediations, pedicures, reading, calming music and walks.
- Go on a silent retreat – I personally have not been on one of these but my brother has and absolutely loved it.
- Get into nature – move and breathe in it, then be still with it. Listen to the different noises, see the scenery and smell scents it has to offer. Like wind running though the leaves, water falling off a cliff or down a stream, the strong and beautiful scent of that massive lilac bush next to you or the stunning view of a sunrise or sunset.
- Take 3 hours and do something creative like draw, paint or play an instrument.
- If you cannot take a full day or a few hours, not a problem, start by doing something just for 5 minutes a day. I can almost guarantee if you do this, you will see and feel the benefits of it and that 5 minutes will turn into 15-20 minutes. Do things like a meditation practice, breath work, sit in silence while you concentrate on one object like a lit candle, draw or colour, play an instrument, or writing in your journal.
If you feel like you do not have time for any of the above, then you my friend are the exact person that needs to make this a priority. If you make something a priority in your day, I can guarantee you it will get done. What is stopping you from giving this a try? The fear of missing out on something or the opportunity to “get something done?” You may learn something about yourself if you give this a try, so set aside some time every week to stop doing and start being.