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What If?

What if today is all we have? What if tomorrow doesn't inhabit our thoughts? What if we stop lamenting yesterday? What if?

So much of our life is completely focused on either planning for the future or worrying about what did or didn't happen in the past till we totally lose sight of our now. I see people of all ages getting sucked into this time warp in which the current moment has no value. The reality is that the current moment is the ONLY moment of value in our lives. If we can't be present in the current moment, we are not fully living.

My life is busy. I run several businesses and have lots of responsibilities every day. It is really easy for me to get caught up in planning for the future, lamenting the past, and worrying about everyone else unless I maintain an intentional practice of awareness. Here are a few ideas, hints, and suggestions to help you become more mindfully aware.

1. Living mindfully aware doesn't take hours. It really only takes a few minutes every day. I choose to practice each morning when I have a few minutes to myself. I go to my current happy place, my back deck, where I can watch my chickens mill around the yard. I drink my tea and just take in the beauty of summer. Do you know how many shades of green there are in the trees, grass, moss, and bushes? I watch the hummingbirds come and drink from the feeder that hangs above the fairy garden. I watch my cats pretend to chase the chickens, and the chickens pretend to be afraid. I watch. I breathe. I am.

2. Living mindfully aware is much easier when you engage all your senses. How often do you close your eyes and just listen, taking in each sound without judgement, just noting the sound. Birds, wind whistling through the trees, a car going by, crickets, a cat meow, chickens quietly clucking to one another. These are the things I hear right now. After you are aware of the sounds around you, open your eyes, and take in the scene. Can you see the source of those sounds? What about taste and smell? Eat and drink slowly, taking time to truly experience the tastes and the smells of your food. And don't forget touch because it's really important. Whatever you are doing, stop to think about how something feels. The keys on your keyboard. The sun on your face. The fluffy socks on your feet. The cold chair on your back. Just be aware and note your current sensory experiences.

3. Life does require planning, especially a busy life filled with work, family, schedules, social activities, trips, etc. So plan. Set aside a time to plan. I have three planning times in my life. At the beginning of each month, I look at the month in advance, reviewing any trips or big events to note the days affected and to prepare any supplies needed. At the beginning of each week, I note weekly responsibilities such as meetings, phone calls, deadlines, and events, and make sure they are highlighted on my calendar. Each evening, I review my calendar prior to bed, just noting the events of the next day, but not spending time preparing or worrying. Having the next day's events in my mind allows me to sleep more peacefully. I had to experiment to find a planning practice that worked for me. It's important to find a routine that works for you.

4. This is one of my favorite quotes: "If you want to hear God laugh, tell him your plan." Yep. That's about right. After you work Number 3 into your life, remember that life is messy and plans will get disrupted. It's okay. Living mindfully aware means that you are flexible and can respond when the schedule is disrupted. Note that I said respond and not react. Responding means that we expect interruptions and changes in our schedule and we simply adjust and go on. Reacting to the unexpected puts us in crisis mode because we experience the change at the emotional level. The goal is to always respond and never react. We can experience disappointment and not fall apart, because guess what, we are living in the current moment no matter how much we plan!

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