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Have you ever wondered if there was a way to slow down time and learn to live in the present moment? Have you recently picked your head up from the stress and chaos of life only to notice that a lot has changed while you weren’t paying attention? Before regret gets its icy tentacles into your heart, read on for some tips on how to pay attention in life and avoid waking up one day to find that you’ve let life slip through your fingers.
Living in the Present Moment in Order to Avoid Regret
Recently, I stayed with my son and slept in the guest bedroom of his house while he slept down the hall with his significant other. How did this happen so fast? I wondered, Wasn’t he just a kid sleeping under my roof?
Above me on a shelf sat Little Bear and Simba — symbols of his childhood. I wanted to plead with Simba and Little Bear to help me turn back time and make these mother/son roles reverse. Please put Simba and Little Bear and my son back in his room under my roof and give me back some time.
But, as they say, time and adulthood wait for no mom. And sometimes the changes in life take us by surprise, catch us off guard, and we bemoan the years gone, sounding like a cliche: Where did the time go? They grow up so fast. Enjoy these years, we admonish the young, harried moms, it goes by in the blink of an eye.
But I don’t want to be a well-worn cliche. I want to learn how to be fully present in life and more aware of the seasons of life versus the erosion of years. I want to live in moments instead of minutes and days. I want to pay attention so I’m not hit with regrets when Little Bear looms over my head and and says, “You should have slowed down–you should have learned living in the present.”
Name Your Season and Then Vow to be Present in it
Someone posted on Facebook this question that got me thinking about life: “What is the name of the season of life you are in right now?”
The prompt gave me pause to take some time to think about and fully recognize this current season for what it is — what God is doing, preparing me for, and showing me. Really, this is the way we should reflect on life regularly. If we did, we’d show up more often, we’d learn to settle in, be in the present, to avoid the slipping of time.
Your current season may feel more like an I-can’t-see-the-forest-for the-trees phase of life than a clearly labeled chapter. However, taking the time to name the narrative will give you skills to be more present.
Acknowledge that where you are is the present moment for you
My favorite yoga teacher, Adriene Mishler always says, “Everything is as it should be.” Maybe that means kids pounding on your bedroom door as you steal 15 minutes of alone time to focus on God, your needs, or your health. Or maybe it means an empty house where chaos used to reign.
Being in the present even when life feels a bit chaotic can anchor you and help you stay in the moment. Being in the present when you want to turn back the clock can reveal rich treasures that God has been waiting to show you.
And being present for you right now might mean a season of waiting. It’s hard to be in the moment when your mind wanders to the future but meditation and contemplation can help you remain in the present.
Whatever life looks like for you right now, the key to living in the moment is to acknowledge that this is exactly where you are supposed to be. That means banishing regret and stop second guessing all your decisions!
Your present season may not be what you expected it to be but by practicing how to live in the present you can find out why you are there.
I’ve recently moved, giving up a ten acre farm and quiet solitude for a small apartment. When people ask me why I moved, I respond with a truthful statement:”I’m not sure yet.” This move didn’t turn out quite as I expected but I’m working hard at being present and living in the moment as is–not as I had planned it to be. Living fully in the present keeps us from squandering the lessons God wants us to learn.
We don’t have to have all the answers. Sometimes it’s okay to be on a journey and not a destination. When kids demanded my attention I knew my season and my purpose, but being an empty nester long before I had even started to prepare for that season forced me to think about why the nest emptied sooner than I had expected.
If I’d tried to cling to the little birdies and refused to release them, I’d be living in the past, not in the present moment, and I’d be missing all that God has for me now. Be generous with yourself and be encouraged that there is more…all you have to do is look at where you are right now ask, “What’s next, God?”
And living in the present moment produces gratitude
I’ve been shown amazing grace and favor in my life–although I didn’t always know how to live in the present enough to enjoy it. I often forfeited glorious moments for imagined tomorrows, until I learned the gift of gratitude.
Once I learned how to practice the habit of now, I found that minutes, days, and seasons seemed fuller and more meaningful. I didn’t need to live in the past or the future–the present was fulfilling and it was right where I needed to be.
Some questions to ask yourself as you reflect on living in the present moment
Who am I in this season of life?
What gifts am I using now, or how is life shaping me?
Who do I need to be for those I love, or what quality (fruit of the Spirit) is God producing in my life right now?
What parameters or markers signify this season?
What events will I look back on and mark as those that stand out during this current stage of life?
And, perhaps the most important question: How can I practice living in the present moment in this season?
If I were to answer for myself when my children were young, I might have said:
- Take naps with them more often
- Turn my eyes to them when they enter a room
- Listen when they want to talk
- Show interest in what interests them
- Sit quietly with them
- Offer to drive them wherever they need to go
- Say no to work demands more often
- Say yes more often just for the fun of it
In my current season of life, I might answer:
- Journal often
- Watch the sunset and the sunrise
- Take long walks
- Read more books
- Pray for friends and family
- Look for ways to offer a smile or a helping hand
If you’ve found that too often you squandered the present, don’t despair, it’s not too late to learn to live in the present moment.
Hi, I’m Mary. I love to simplify so I have time in my life for what’s important to me. Creating a simple, full life didn’t just happen. It took courage, vision, and some strategic planning. It wasn’t always easy but I found my way through the clutter and distractions to find an authentic life of faith.
If you’re ready to simplify in order to live a fuller, richer life then let’s get started. Join the Simple Life ~ Simple Faith Facebook group and become a part of a growing community of women who are saying “no” to hustle and stress and “yes” to a lifestyle of freedom and rest.
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