Pay Attention to the Step You Are On
Who in today’s world is NOT dealing with overload of stimuli, things to do, information to keep track of, and personal pressures? It’s a challenge for one person, in one body, to keep up. Our mental strategies for coping are not necessarily the most useful. As Cheri Huber famously said, “Worry is not preparation.”
What about planning ahead? Yes, planning is helpful, even essential, to enjoy and succeed in our lives. Have you noticed that it can be taken to extremes? Not only is some of the future not predictable, no matter what we plan for, but also, we can get stuck in the future.
A good friend was reflecting on her action orientation in life. Even though she appears to be putting her attention on present actions, that’s just to get to what’s next. The focus is the future. Two issues arise from this. One is that, if you are already on to the next things, it’s hard to relax and enjoy the good things you have brought about. The second crucial issue is that you are less in touch with what’s really happening. Both our current experiences and our future ones depend on sensing, feeling, absorbing, allowing, being in, the present moment.
The past is another place we may be putting our attention. If that means we are applying what we learned, so we can more fully and successfully navigate right now, that’s brilliant. If it means we are stuck somewhere in the past, reliving past reactions, nothing new can happen.
Sometimes, being in the present moment allows me to become aware of what past reactions are being triggered. When I feel a tightness in some part of my body, it’s probably a clue to energy that is weighing me down. Perhaps it’s not mine, or perhaps it’s some old fear or regret. Fortunately, the present moment is the time that I can choose to release it. Whew. If I stayed in my old reaction, nothing new would be happening.
Last winter I physically anchored the lesson about staying present. I was on a medium-sized cruise ship heading for Puerto Rico, and decided to walk down the open air spiral staircase from the deck above to the pool deck. I had something in one hand, and the other on the railing, as the ship pitched a little bit. The steps were damp from spray and drinks. I was wearing flip flops. I could get ahead of myself and worry. Then I heard the voice, “Pay attention to the step you are on.” That kept me safe, and keeps me safe now.
Whether I am feeling emotional waves, concerns about the future, feelings about the past, when I want to re-orient myself, I hear, “Pay attention to the step you are on.”
I wish you many happy, safe, and successful steps, and presence for as many of them as possible.