Experiencing Life in the Present Moment!
Dr. Michelle Kmiec, Founder OHH
Has this ever happened to you?
After a long day at work, you get into your car and begin your journey home only to discover that you barely remember your drive? Somebody may ask, “Hey did you see that new building along your route?” And you think to yourself, “what new building?” And then as you are driving to work the following day you notice it and think, “Oh my gosh! There’s a whole new building over there! How could I have missed that?!”
Have you ever been moving through your day on automatic pilot, and instead of driving to the restaurant where you are meeting a friend for lunch, you instead drive to work completely unaware that you are not headed to your intended destination?
Of course, I am not suggesting that you be unsafe and take your eyes off the road. I am simply pointing out that falling into a mindless stare while driving can be just as dangerous!
There have been situations when I would notice cool weather patterns in the sky, and I would observe that most people never even look up to see this amazing show presented by nature.
There was even a time that I was on a jogging path where it was especially safe to look around and notice your surroundings, and I observed a tornado in the distance! There were at least 20 to 30 people around me and none of them had any idea that there was a distant twister because their focus was straight ahead or worse, towards the ground.
When we live our lives in a constant blank stare, we don’t notice how quickly time is flying by until one day we wake up and wonder, “how did I get here and where did all the time go?” But the question that we really should be asking is, “why have we allowed our lives to become so dull?”
It’s easy to see why thrill-seeking activities such as skydiving or bungee cord jumping are popular. It gets people’s adrenaline going and brings them out of the numbing dullness of their everyday life. These types of activities force you into living in the ‘now’ where everything is brilliant and alive!
Now I understand that the acts of jumping out of an airplane and leaping from a cliff are not for everyone, but luckily there are plenty of other ways to feel alive!
By retraining your mind to see life from a different perspective, and by learning how to truly observe the world around you, you can enter into a new world of unbelievable potential!
In this next activity, you are going to unpack something that has likely been stored away deep within your mind for quite some time. I’m talking about your imagination, and the freedom to express via play!
This experiment is one of being in the present. It focuses on exploring the ways in which animals and young children react to the world around them. What gets their attention?
Exploring Different Perspectives Activity
Sit in a comfortable chair or lie down on a bed or couch.
Now take a moment to observe and see what is around you. No doubt, after only about 20 seconds (or less) you are thinking, “okay, now what?”
Well, that response indicates that you are familiar enough with your surroundings that nothing stands out or grabs your attention. But as you learned, you may not be as familiar with your surroundings as you think.
So now I am going to ask you to do this little experiment again. Only this time, I want you to use your imagination (you know, that thing you used all the time when you were a kid) and pretend that you are a cat, dog or child. I want you to observe the room you are in from their point of view.
For example, let’s think about the cat. Cats are notoriously curious, right? If you own a cat, have you ever noticed that every day (sometimes several times a day) it makes the ‘rounds’ and checks out every room in the house as though patrolling its surroundings? Cats notice even the most mundane changes in their environment.
- Look around the room you are in now. What would a cat or dog notice immediately?
- What would they feel a need to investigate?
- Would it be the little piece of dust moving in the breeze under your window? Or maybe an almost invisible spider web in the corner of your room that you never noticed. Maybe the leaves are moving outside…or you are moving your toes and didn’t realize it and that’s what grabs their attention? How about a light reflection on the wall?
In the 1989 movie “Dead Poet’s Society,” Robin Williams performed in a profound scene in which he leaped onto his desk in order to view his surroundings from a different perspective.
This, in essence, is what I want you to do here.
- What do you see? Maybe you should get on the floor and view your room from their height…what do you see now?
- Is there something shiny that catches your attention? Notice shapes, colors, lights and shadows.
- Does the cat or dog mesmerize you?
Have you ever noticed how toddlers always seem to have a look of surprise on their face? It is as though they are always in total awe of the world! Imagine if you could live each day amazed by your surroundings?
Whether a child or a pet, why is it that their attention is so much more focused and alert than yours?
If you really think about the characteristics shared by the animals and young children, then you can answer this question.
Figured it out yet?
They are truly living and experiencing life in the present moment!
And so can you with a bit of practice, some imagination, and a lot of curiosity!
‘Floating Cities’ Kevin MacLeod (incompetech.com)
Licensed under Creative Commons: By Attribution 3.0
Excerpt from Dead Poets Society (1989) for Educational Purposes Only