“When you make the present moment, instead of the past and future, the focal point of your life, your ability to enjoy what you do and with it the quality of your life increases dramatically.” – Ekhart Tolle
Most (likely all) of us have endless to-do lists, future goals, and past regrets. When we allow these things to be at the forefront of our thoughts they guide our actions and prevent us from living in and for the now. The promises we make to ourselves, like “I’ll be happy when…” or “I’ll be a better person if … ” cause us to completely disregard the present moment for the beautiful and perfect moment it is right now. November’s theme of the month, Appreciate the Now, reminds us to take pause, quiet our minds and find gratitude for what we are and what we have at this exact moment. There is no greater gift than what is right in front of us.
When we are able to find appreciation for where we currently are, it has the added biological benefit of calming our nervous systems. This release or letting go of our worries can do amazing things for our physical and mental health. Adversely, worrying about the past or future can cause physical and emotional stress with longer term consequences that go beyond the effects of general discontent. Some of these measurable effects are:
- Becoming easily agitated, frustrated or overwhelmed
- Feeling bad about yourself
- Increasing signs of depression
- Low energy
- Rapid heartbeat
- Weakened immune system
- Forgetfulness and disorganization
- Inability to focus
Prioritizing your ability to “Appreciate the Now” can not only make you happier in the moment, it can also make you healthier in the long run.
Here are a few ways to hone in on this practice this month- whether you’re a teacher, a student or just in your day to day life.
Embrace what you are experiencing. You are amazing and exactly as you are meant to be right now! Intentionally appreciate your body and your life exactly as it is at this moment. Our bodies and abilities are constantly in flow. Find gratitude for something that your body is capable of right now and use that as motivation during a particularly challenging part of your day. Find gratitude for something you are accomplishing in the moment and use that as motivation to truly believe in yourself.
“Appreciate all that you are in this moment, how far you’ve come and all that you have to look forward to.”
Return to your breath. If your mind wanders or feels doubt, take a deep breath in and out. This return to breath will allow you to stay present in the moment. When you are in class or in a stressful situation simply being able to return to your breath will strengthen your ability to be stay in the now. Your breath itself is a gift you can be thankful for!
Focus on your alignment. Listen to each detail, each cue, how it translates on your body. Think about this while you are taking classes. As a teacher, guide your students to do the same. Slow your cues, maybe leave some for another day. Check back in with your ground up cuing. This will allow your students the space to listen and feel each alignment cue. Ask them to close their eyes and feel each adjustment in their bodies. This can be an excellent time to focus on helping them feel grounded. You can even use touch to help them reconnect to the earth “floor” allowing them to stay in the now. Place your hands on whatever part of their body is in contact with the floor and apply gentle pressure.
Here are a few affirmations that may be helpful for your life and this practice:
- Appreciate the NOW, slow down, release your expectations, notice, and find gratitude for the current moment.
- Be truly, unapologetically, authentically you. Content with all you are and all you have, because there is no one else who can offer the world what you have to offer.
- Appreciate yourself NOW. Accept and love you, exactly as you are at this moment.
- Appreciate this moment NOW. This present moment is beautiful and holds the potential for deep gratitude and success, all is exactly as it is meant to be. This exact moment will never happen again.