2017 was a tumultuous year.
For me personally, but for the entire world as well. While my year has been transformative and exciting, it’s also been the most difficult and painful year of my life. It’s been a year of growth, heartbreak, healing, strength, pressure and success, failure, and finally starting to understand exactly who I think I am, even though I still have no clue about what I actually want to do with my life. That used to freak me out, but it doesn’t so much anymore. Actually, a ton of stuff that used to freak me out doesn’t anymore. And I think what I’ve come to learn in the past few months could really help a lot of people like me as well, so I want to attempt to explain what kind of clicked into place for me.
Your twenties are a funny time because I think we’re at this critical age where we actually spend a ton of our time either feeling nostalgic, or fretting and worrying about the future ahead. It’s super normal. To think of people or relationships that are no longer apart of our lives, to maybe miss the way things used to be, wishing we could go back to a certain time, or place. Worrying about what we’re doing with our lives and what our purpose is, thinking about what might have been and yearning for the good old times, while also deeply hoping our best days are actually ahead of us still.
We’re not teenagers anymore, we’re definitely not kids. But we’re also not really adults yet either, and we’re in that weird, grey, learn-as-you-go stage of life that is mostly cool, but I think also a bit terrifying if you’re doing it right.
As young people, we’re often being told to “live in the moment”, but I don’t think any of us actually fully comprehend what that means. How on earth do you live in the moment with all the stresses, pressures, and plans of the outside world weighing you down and demanding your constant attention? How do you live in the moment in a world that is increasingly forgetting the value of what the present moment is?
The problem, is we actually leave very very little time for the present in our everyday lives. Even though we’re doing it, and its happening, all the time. There’s never a moment that isn’t happening in the moment, and yet we’re getting so much less out of it than we should be, because our mind is most likely dwelling somewhere in the past or in the future. I didn’t realize how true this was until I started watching for it in myself and discovered how often my mind was occupied with literally anything but with what I was doing in the present.
With so much going on in our own lives and in the rest of the world around us, I think it’s really easy to start feeling incredibly small and helpless and overwhelmed with the state of our world. This type of thinking makes us retract even more into the past and future, and further away from the present moment, because often times the present moment is scary as hell. And we have no idea how to deal with it, or where to start.
So what I discovered, is you just start.
You let go. Of your fantasies and projections and fears for the future, because you realize that they really don’t actually exist anywhere yet anyways. They’re illusions. They’re not real. Even though they really feel tangible sometimes. And you let go of the past too. You forgive yourself and others, and just decide to let go of the things that you always felt defined or limited you and other people.
I never realized it was a choice. I didn’t know I could just choose to let those things go. I didn’t realize we all had the choice. But we do. Those thoughts and beliefs, even the ones that are the deepest entrenched in you, really only exist in your mind, and take up valuable time and energy that take away from your capacity to be in the present moment.
The same present moment that is consistently shaping who you are, and what you will do.
I’m sure there are loads of people who have beat me to this discovery, but for me, learning to just let go was huge. It’s changed my life, and I genuinely believe learning to really, truly be in the “Now” is like unlocking a superpower. You don’t realize how valuable and liberating it is until you’re on the other side looking at how bad things seemed in your mind before you got to where you are now.
This really incredible thing starts to happen when you practice living, or “being conscious” in the moment. In the present. In your own life and in your own body and mind, things seem less painful, less intense, more at peace. You suddenly no longer hold judgements about other people or things that have the ability to overwhelm and break you. You suddenly don't care for the pettier judgements others might make about you. You stop comparing. You stop needing external validation. Things in the world don’t actually change, but you do, and the way you feel about them does.
You just start to accept things as they are and as they come in the moment, and naturally deal with them as they materialize. It doesn't mean you're never going to feel bad moments, but you no longer feel the resistance to everything that subconsciously used to build tension and fear in you. Those same things that affected the ways in which you perceived yourself and the world. You start to notice little things. You start to appreciate little things. You let go of negative things. You acknowledge your own thoughts and emotions, but you’re not ruled by them anymore.
The noise goes away.
Suddenly, when your mind isn’t tied down and governed and ruled anymore by the thoughts and beliefs you’ve constantly formed about your past and future, you just kind of get to… be.
I’m not saying its super easy to get to that state of mind where you are consistently living—and being conscious—in the present moment. It’s really, really hard. But not as hard as the suffering we carry around with us everyday, that we have been conditioned to accept as being a normal part of our everyday lives and minds. I’m also not saying that your other desires and ambitions will go away if you manage to find peace through this state of mind. It just means you’re not a prisoner of your own mind anymore.
Like anything, reaching a conscious state of mind requires practice, but I really believe it’s so much more attainable than people think. People often reach this state of mind through meditation practices and mindfulness exercises, but you can just start by trying to listen to your own thoughts and try to start becoming aware of your reactions and opinions as they arise and occur in everyday life.
To some, I know this will sound like complete mumbo jumbo. I know that! But to those who’s minds are open to it, I promise there actually really is a way to exist without all the mental suffering we inflict upon ourselves in this day and age, on top of all the other suffering that already goes on in the world. I promise it is very possible and incredibly attainable.
When you tap into “existing in the Now”, it benefits and enriches you in virtually every aspect of your life, just because you’ve learned to master the one thing nobody will ever be able to take away from you; your mind.
In a world bread of criticism and skepticism, we all know we are still our own biggest critics. And learning how I could just choose not to be, has fundamentally changed the way I see absolutely everything.
And it can for you too. :)
If this post has sparked your interest at all and you'd like to learn more about this topic, contact me and I'd be super happy to provide you with some good reading material I found really helpful! x