Today, I was reminded of a saying that I haven’t heard in awhile.
Here it is. ‘If you are depressed, then you are living in the past. If you are anxious, then you are living in the future.’
So many of us spend our time each day in regret, anger or sadness over something that has already happened. We are living in the past in this instance. At least as many people are worrying about something that hasn’t even happened and these people are living in the future. No matter which way you are inclined, if you live in the past or the future, then you are missing out on the present moment.
The present moment is really all that we have.
Being aware of what is happening right here and right now brings an amazing focus to your life. When you are living in the present it doesn’t matter so much what happened 10 minutes or 10 days ago. You are focused on what is happening right now. In the same manner, your right now focus takes away the worry about what might happen in the future. Focusing on right now, lets the future take care of itself.
This sounds easy and good, right?
From my own experience, I know that it’s not always so easy.
Sometimes an event happens and I can’t quite let it go. When this happens, I’m stuck in something that happened in the past. This usually leads to negative types of feelings and I don’t really enjoy this type of thinking. If I get stuck in this loop of negativity, then I start to put it out into the world. Then, I see more and more things as negative. It’s a loop that feeds on itself unless I do something specific to stop it.
While I’m not a big worrier, there are times when I feel a bit of anxiety about something that is going to happen in the future. Thinking about a future event and worrying whether it will go the way that I want is not very helpful either. Again, it doesn’t lead to feelings that I enjoy. The anxious feelings tend to make me feel more irritable and I get less fun to be around. Again, it can be it’s own loop that feeds on itself unless I do something to bring it to a halt.
When I am able to live in the present moment, I am so much happier.
I’m calmer and I feel more at peace. I can focus on what is right in front of me. The past is less important and the future hasn’t happened so I don’t give it undue thought. Living in the present moment is a great place to be. I can think clearly. I can enjoy what is happening right now. I appreciate what I have and what I am able to do.
If living in the present is such a great place to be, then how do you get there?
If you are stuck in a loop of negativity or are depressed and living in the past, then one thing that you can do to shift this is to have a practice of gratitude.
Here’s an easy way to bring this practice into your life. Set a time during your day. (It doesn’t really matter what time. I usually will do this in the morning & in the evening but find a time that works for you.) Set a timer for a couple of minutes & write down what you are grateful for in this very moment. It doesn’t have to be a long list. You can start with very simple things like having food to eat or heat on a cold day. Challenge yourself to write down 5 things that your are grateful are in your life. It can be enough to begin to break this negativity cycle by shifting your awareness to the good things in your life. It will be an even stronger practice if you commit to practicing this every day.
If you are stuck in the future with anxious thoughts, then one thing you can do is to focus on your breath.
Here’s an easy practice to try.
Set a timer for 2 or 3 minutes. You can find a quiet place to just sit or walk around while you take some deep breaths. After a few breaths, ask yourself “What is happening right now?” Begin to bring your focus to the present. It might not be easy to do because your thoughts are taking you to the future. Each time that you notice your focus is on the future again, then gently acknowledge what’s happening & bring your awareness back to your breath. This is bringing your focus back to the present moment.
You can repeat this practice throughout the day. Anytime that the anxious thoughts come back, take a breath and ask yourself again, “What’s happening right now?” This will bring your focus back to the present and help to stop the worry about the future. You’ll begin to break this cycle of anxiety.
Even if it is for only a few moments, you’ll have the chance to enjoy a pause from the anxious thoughts. You’ll get to see yourself in a more relaxed state that is focused on the present moment.
Both of these tricks can have long term benefits if you practice them consistently.
They may not be enough to completely break you out of a cycle of depression or anxiety. However, if they can give you relief even for a few minutes, then it’s worth practicing them.
I’ve used these techniques for a long time. I have a daily practice of gratitude and I go back to my breath often throughout the day. They’ve become habits that I actually enjoy practicing.
Give them a try and let me know if you are noticing any benefits.
If you’d like to get help in setting up a routine that can support you in staying more focused on the present, let’s chat. We can explore the root causes of your anxiety or depression and support you in the process of life transformation.
Remember…it’s never too late to live healthier & happier.
Becky is a Yoga Therapist & has been teaching yoga since 2006. She loves to match people with a yoga practice that helps them to feel better every day & believes that there is a yoga practice for everyone. Click here to sign up for her mailing list & get all of the important news & tips first!