I am not burdened by thoughts of past or future. One is gone. The other is yet to come.

(from World Puja Network)

One of life’s major paradoxes has been highlighted big time for me since becoming a coach. On one hand, I’m supposed to help my clients create clear goals and visions for themselves, something to pull them forward, to motivate them, the more specific, the better. I’ve got nice little inspirational sayings to spur them on… “how are you going to know when you’ve reached your destination if you don’t have a clear picture of what it looks like?”. And great quotes: “A dream is just a dream.  A goal is a dream with a plan and a deadline.”(Harvey Mackay) or, “Even if I don’t reach all my goals, I’ve gone higher than I would have if I hadn’t set any.” (Danielle Fotopoulos). I also tell them about the Harvard University study of their 1979 Business School class which showed that, 10 years later, those graduates who had clear, written goals (just 3% of the class) were making 10 times as much as their classmates.

HOWEVER, I also passionately believe in the power of letting go, “trusting the universe”, and the importance of living in the moment.  Sooo, if that’s the case, doesn’t that contradict the notion of looking to the future to set clear, specific intentions for ourselves? If we’re trying to live as though the “present is perfect”, then how can we justify placing our focus “out there” somewhere?  How do you reconcile your need to be fully present in the now while still keeping your dreams alive and moving purposefully toward them?

Dancing in the moment, open to what’s next

Frankly, we have no choice but to start with now, unless we want to live in a future fantasyland of ifs and maybes. One image that works for me is to think about that now/future connection as though we’re aiming a bow and arrow. You’ve got to line up both sights – the one at the tip of the arrow and the one closer to your eyes. The one at the tip is the future and the closer one is now. If you want to hit your mark, both must be aligned, and you must be fully grounded in your present stance to follow through successfully.

So, go ahead and “SMARTEN” up your goals – make sure they are specific, measurable, action-oriented, realistic, timely, empowering and nurturing to your values. And then, go bigger than that – create a compelling vision and purpose for your life, one that gives your goals a context and larger intention. But then, bring yourself back to now… are you living in alignment with your core beliefs? Are you working to create balance in all areas of your live TODAY? As we move through this transitional season, from warm summer days to crisp Fall ones, let’s be extra-conscious of blending our future visioning with our present living, making sure both “sights” are aimed to maximize our highest and best potential.

Remember, “Yesterday is history, tomorrow a mystery, today is a gift, that’s why it’s called the present”.  How will you use your gift, right now?

Rite-minded ideas for living in the present

>>>>If you’re obsessing about the faux pas you made yesterday, or the difficult conversation you have to have tomorrow, one of the easiest ways to bring you back to NOW is to simply be in your body. Create some sacred space and in the stillness, just start to move… no music, just begin by sitting quietly on the floor and listen to where your body wants to go. Add a “witness” and it becomes a kind of moving therapy called “authentic movement”, originated by Jungian therapist Mary Whitehead in the 1940’s. You can find out more about it at any number of websites, including www.authenticmovement.org

>>>> Of course, one of the most powerful ways to come back to your present SELF is through meditation. The trick is not to allow your mind to wander too far backward or forward, so sometimes it helps to have something to focus on – your breath or a mantra/affirmation are two common ones. Here’s my favorite core-grounding meditation: Breathe into your solar plexis on the inhale and as you exhale, imagine energy flowing down through your legs and deep into the Earth where you can “wrap” it around a hook. Then on the next inhale, draw it back into your solar plexis and anchor it there.  Try it 2 or 3 times (you can even do it standing up) and feeeel yourself fully present in your body!

>>>> Our sense of touch is perhaps one of the strongest for keeping us in the moment. Create (or buy) a set of worry beads for yourself – just a simple string of beads that you can finger as you speak your past and future worries out loud, releasing them to god(dess)/universe so you can re-focus on the present. You can create your own “present-perfect” amulet by choosing a favorite shell, stone, piece of jewelry or other meaningful object. Imbue it with those qualities that you most need to remember when you’re spending too much time stewing about woulda/coulda/shoulda’s – trust, acceptance, peace… whatever calls to you. It’s amazing what a simple touchstone can do for bringing you back to center.

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I hope you’ve enjoyed this sampling of suggestions to help keep you fully anchored in the gift of the present moment. I’d love to hear your ideas, too – please do email me at [email protected]. And if you want to read more ritual ideas, please check out my book, Circle of One: The Art of Becoming a SELF-Centered Woman at http://spiritedliving.com/index.php/circle-of-one/