My inner critic got pushy just as I got ready to post what I wrote here. I have chosen not to succumb to my inner critic's natterings in writing my blog, but in deference to anyone who she was trying to protect, I will say up front that I do not intend this post to mean that if you have not achieved the skill you desire in "presence" that you are an emotional child. I believe that we are all on a continual journey to emotional adulthood throughout our lives. If you find your own inner child or critic piqued in any way by this post, please soothe it with my wish for you to look inside and find some wisdom your own emotional adult wants to give you. Blessings to everyone.
In a recent post I talked about how wonderful it was to finally be free of the debilitating worries, guilts and anxieties of that past and future, allowing my energy to be present to the joy and occasional pain of my daily life. Living in the Present really has become a great survival tactic when fears encroach on my happiness. I recommend it highly, but learning to Live in the Moment didn’t just free me from fear, it changed me in other, even more profound ways; it turned me into an emotional adult.
You knew it, didn’t you? There’s always a catch!
You remember that I said that Living in the Moment didn’t necessarily make all my problems go away? Well it’s true that being more Present actually made some parts of my life more complicated. Let's start with my primary modern survival technique -multitasking. How would I survive without the ability to monitor client email, text my kids, maintain many many friendships via Twitter, Facebook, IM, email etc and run a household and a couple of businesses all while playing with stones and jotting out posts like this that feed my soul? I admit to walking the edge on this issue more than any other, my attention always a bit fragmented. For a while when I first began being conscious of the benefits of Presence, I took it too far the other way - using meditation to help calm my mind and then concentrating so much on one thing at a time – being uber-Present as though I was on some mountaintop with the monks - that I made modern mistakes. I remember distinctly being so into the Present Moment on a lunch date that I completely forgot to pick my kids up from school. "Oops. Guess I need to be simultaneously Present to the calendar so the future doesn’t bonk me in the head!" I said to my extremely smug Guilt Imp as we raced to the school.
The calendar became my savior, however, as I stopped trying to carry the future in my head and put it in my phone so I refer to it when I needed - at that moment - to make a decision about how to spend my energy over the next unit of time - whether it was a few minutes (e.g., whether to try to run to the grocery before or after a meeting) or a few months (e.g., whether to take on a new project). I’ve recognized that – to a point - I am capable of multitasking in the Present to the extent it helps me manage my life and still remain Present to all the parts of my life that I love. I do turn off the multitasking sometimes, but I do more than unplug my technology, I put my Worry Imps to bed too, asking some to leave forever and others to wait for me at my desk the next day or week when I will have the ability to deal with them. Yes, I talk to my Worry Gremlins. Why not? They tend to leave more readily when I address them directly. Call me crazy but it works.
But conscious multitasking took me deeper into myself and made me aware that living in the Present Moment required a lot ofenergy management. I used to think of this as time management, but being Present to the relatively subtle fluxuations of my physical and mental energy levels has made me aware that while I have little control over the steady march of time, I have a lot more influence over HOW I spend my time to get the most of the energy that flows through me. For example, due to biorhythms, hormones or sun spots (I suspect they’re all in cahoots anyway) I find that at some points in time my energy is simply more capable of doing some things than at others. I know I’m useless when I wake up, creative until two, mentally scattered again until five, mentally productive until eight and tired after nine. Knowing my energy patterns is great for living in the Present because I now know how best to get through my task lists, making the most of my Present energy. But wait. Dang. I keep forgetting that I don't really control that old Time Demon – my schedule - which is dictated by kids, clients and the various construction crews that have been banging in and around my home/office for the last 3 years. Shoot.
Let me tell you, managing the demands of my life while being present to my energy cycles is a real pain. It’s not so much about Monsters and Imps as it is about being hyper conscious of the constant choices I’m making – and I mean constant choices on a minute-by-minute basis sometimes – about what is most important to me and how I spend my energy. After all, when I’m Present to all the decisions leading up that moment when I face a client deadline in the midst of a major energy low, I can’t bitch about their stupid deadlines or the unfairness of the Universe for putting me in this situation, I know it was my choices – on what to sign up for, what values to uphold and how to manage my energy leading up to that moment - that put me in this position.
And this is how I came to realize that I’d grown up emotionally because being Present gave me emotional responsibility for my life. Being Present to each moment makes me hyper-aware of the choices I make on how I spend my time and energy, and very conscious of the power I give each little Gremlin and Imp that scampers (or I accidently invite) into my life. All this knowledge makes it virtually impossible for me to blame others for my reality. I’ve successfully put myself in control of my Present Moment which means – yipes! – that I’m in control of it! This is a classic case of “be careful what you wish for” because when things go well I can give myself great kudos, but when things go not-so-great I take that rap too. Inconvenient as this knowledge is sometimes, it’s also empowering because over time it’s helped me make more and more good decisions, letting go of people and behaviors that just brought more little Demon-wanna-bes to my life. But notice I said “more” good decisions, not “only” good decisions. I still screw up.
So that I don’t let that load of past Regret Gremlins and Guilt Imps gang up on me again, I have to deal with the negative in the real-time Present Moment, apologizing when I’ve wronged someone and doing what I can to make things right when 20-20 hindsight shows me the results of my boneheaded decisions. Sure, I do blame the Universe for stuff, but as a way of not accepting responsibility for things truly out of my control, like illnesses and tragedy, decisions other people make (after all, my own Presence isn’t the only Moment that matters) and world events I didn’t vote for. I don’t take personal responsibility for these things because, I mean, why invite a little Demon-wannabe to move into your basement if he’s got a perfectly good home elsewhere? (Note: I’m not completely dismissing the theory that those other things outside myself are affected by my decisions, but I don’t take personal responsibility for them all and I’m not going to address the nuances of this complicated issue in this post.)
So somewhere midway through my Life’s Journey, I’m happy to say I’ve used the Be Here Now strategy to ungang my Gremlins so they can’t paralyze me anymore, even though they are still with me toddling down the Path. Presence has given me more than just more manageable problems, though, it’s taken away my excuses. I know now that I have the power to make myself happy and when I’m not, it’s up to me to fix it. As I work with this reality in my minute-by-minute Present Moment, this reality takes me deeper into the choices I make, the benefits and prices I pay with each decision; it continues to mature me.
Part of me hopes that as I age I can live a simpler life and make the minute-by-minute struggle a little less exhausting, but another part of me is joyfully aware that this is just another Future Worry in the guise of a hope. Because the real future Present Moment, when I get there, will be full of choices and good things and not so good things, too. I remind myself that the energy of the Present, when fully experienced and savored, is always more enriching than a mere hope. And so I use hope as a guiding star, steering my myriad of Present decisions like a herd of cats in the general direction of wonderfulness.
More of designing my future in another post, I hope. For the moment, however, it’s time to put my technology away and succumb to uselessness for a bit. With this post I let these thoughts go and pass them on - to you. May they enhance your Present Moment just a little before you pass them on - elsewhere.
Love, Light and Joy,
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