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  • SuePattonThoele

Inhabiting the Moment

As a psychotherapist who believes much of our healing comes from understanding and forgiving the past, and as someone who loves to revisit wonderful experiences in order to revel in the feelings they elicited the first time around, I’ve struggled with the concept of continually living in the moment. What does living in the moment really mean? Where does planning for the future, scheduling appointments in advance, and making reservations for a future trip fit into the idea of living in the moment? How can living moment to moment complement my forays into the past and my need to stay sane by preparing for things to come?

Once when I was talking to my chosen daughter, Colleen, about not having come to a satisfactory conclusion about living in the moment, she said, “I’ve been thinking about that too, and I’ve decided that what I am consciously doing in the moment is the moment.” Aha! The proverbial light bulb went on, and then living in the moment became a believable and doable objective. For me, consciously is the significant word here. As I understand it, when

we consciously do, think, or experience something, our attention is fully engaged and we are connected with the reality and texture of what is going on. Therefore, if we are consciously paying attention and aware of planning for the future or thinking of the past right here, right now, we are still inhabiting the moment.

While I believe mindfulness can include understanding and savoring the past and/or planning, imagining, and envisioning the future, we will concentrate on the description given by renowned long-term teachers who see mindfulness as being consciously, compassionately, and nonjudgmentally present to what is happening now. It’s important to focus on staying in the moment, because although we can remain mindful of the here and now when we consciously project our thoughts into the future or decide to move back in time to review the past, it is incredibly easy to fall out of a mindful state when our thoughts switch to automatic and skitter off in many directions.

Contrary to how it may sound, mindfulness is not arduous or overwhelming. In reality, mindfulness is calming, grounding, and centering. Nonetheless, I can still almost hear you gasping, as my friend Cynthia once did, “What! How can I—multitasking wizard, perfectionist, codependent, always with an ear, eye, or hand distracted toward other people’s needs—become a mindful woman?” The answer is simple although not necessarily easy. We become mindful women through intentional practice, practice, practice.

I’m sure you’ve heard the saying, “Take it one day at a time.” While a day at a time is a great concept, a full day may contain way too much for us to handle during certain circumstances like intense grief, physical pain, or fear. In soul-searing situations, taking it one minute or one breath at a time may be the most we can do. The same small-step principle works in your practices for becoming a more mindful woman. Take it one tiny, easygoing little step at a time. At least that’s how I, and other women I know, are progressing toward increased mindfulness: one gentle, conscious moment at a time. In fact, the theme of The Mindful Woman is that a few mindful moments can make a world of difference.

Excerpted from The Mindful Woman by Sue Patton Thoele. Available on Mango and Amazon.


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