I have this little book that sits on my coffee table in the front room. It’s called “HOW NOW: 100 Ways To Celebrate The Present Moment” by: Raphael Cushnir. Aside from the title reminding me of the movie Anchor Man,(Howwww Nowww Browwwn Cowww), with everyday hustle and bustle, planning for the future, reminiscing the past, we can forget the most important moment…NOW!
Without enjoying NOW, does anything else really matter? We get so stuck in routine, our minds constantly going from here to there, that even learning HOW to enjoy NOW can be a great task. In this book are simple things to do that will give you a sense of presence in the present moment.
I won’t share all 100 ways, but I opened the book randomly to ten different tasks. Here’s HOW:
10 Random Ways To Celebrate The Present Moment
1. NIGHT SKY – There’s an aspect of being that comes out only at night, when we’re able to place our usually overwhelming human dramas in the context of the infinite universe.
Choose a clear, starry night and an hour when most of the world is fast asleep. Make sure you’re warm and comfortable as you lie on your back and watch the dark sky shimmer and twinkle. Use this practice to contemplate the enormity of existence and the eons of time that have passed and are yet to come. From the vantage point of this truly universal perspective, what does the present moment feel like? How does this moment inform or enlighten the ones in your everyday schedule?
2. SHARE A HARD TRUTH – Telling the truth when we feel vulnerable is one of the hardest things to do. We might fear rejection, abandonment, disapproval, disappointment, rage, hurt, or just the raw exposure that’s an unavoidable part of the process. Yet almost every time we are willing to tell a hard truth, we grow and deepen in the presence, no matter the response. The energy we previously locked up to maintain a false front is now freed to uplift and enlighten us.
Think about various people in your life – family, friends, coworkers, and community members. In what relationship have you been bottling up a hard truth? This truth may be about something you’re feeling or not feeling, or about a part of the relationship that isn’t working for you. Look at the list of fears in the first paragraph. Are you holding back due to one or more of those fears? Are you willing to experience that fear and still tell your hard truth? If so, pick a time and place where both you and the other person have the best chance of hearing each other without blame or recrimination. Once it’s all over and the dust has settled, notice whether you feel lighter.
3. BE PASSIONATELY AVERAGE – Striving for excellence is how we change, grow, and reach our full potential. But since we can’t excel at everything, it’s also how we become self-critical and perfectionistic. Urging ourselves toward unreachable perfection robs us of the ease and spontaneity that are the hallmarks of the NOW. But exulting in activities we enjoy, with no intention of great achievement, is a foolproof perfectionist cure.
Are there pursuits you enjoy but can’t do well? Or ones that you think you’d enjoy but avoid due to lack of aptitude? Pick one or two and pursue them with complete gusto. Perhaps that means salsa dancing with two left feet, bowling a record setting series of gutter balls, knitting sweaters with lopsided patterns. Whatever the pursuit, perform with the intention of celebrating your mediocrity rather than cringing at it. If and when a cringe does occur, laugh yourself through it and keep going. If possible judgement by others makes the practice too daunting, do it with a friend who is willing to be just as goofy.
4. PLANT SOMETHING – In every moment there is a birth, growth, decline, and death. This cycle plays out on levels from the molecular to the universal. Within a human life, it transpires physically, emotionally, mentally, and spiritually. Shepherding this cycle for another life form helps us attune ourselves to its constant presence.
Purchase a packet of seeds for a plant you’d like to grow. Choose a plant that’s either annual or perennial so you can experience all aspects of it’s life cycles within the passage of a few seasons. Follow the directions for planting and tending it. View the plant for at least a minute once or twice a week. If the plant survives, watch it for times of steady progression, plateaus, and sudden spurts of growth. If the plant doesn’t make it, try to determine what’s responsible for its demise. Then plant another seed and so your best to help it thrive.
5. BEGIN – In the trance of habit and daily routine, it’s easy to miss the miracle of existence that is continually unfolding. One way to reconnect to that miracle is to consciously bring new projects and activities into your life. Whether tiny or grand, every venture you begin provides a fresh invitation to savor the NOW.
Make a list of some endeavors that you’d like to begin. This list can include an array of choices, such as a new friendship, an herb garden, a dance class, a journal, a book you’ve always wanted to read, or a more honest way of communicating. Your selection can also be internally oriented such as paying more attention to what you feel or focusing on what brings you joy. Next, scan the list for something you can begin RIGHT NOW. Do so, and allow yourself to bask in it’s birth. Then keep the list nearby and make frequent beginnings an ongoing part of your life. Refresh the list often as you grow and change.
6.INTENTIONAL DREAMING – Dreams usually provide more question then they do answers. Are they a stress response? A secret code? A window to another world? There’s one way, frequently unacknowledged, to penetrate the puzzle. Through the process of intentional dreaming, we can bring our conscious and unconscious minds together. The result creates not only an expansive sense of presence, but also powerful inner guidance.
For one week, keep a notebook by your bed. Each night, before going to sleep, think about an aspect of your life in which you’d like some guidance. Then ask your unconscious to provide you with a dream about that topic, and make it one that you’ll remember. If you wake up from a dream in the middle of the night, write it down before returning to sleep. If you recall it in the morning, make sure you write is down before beginning your day.
7. SERVE YOUR COMMUNITY – The usual pitch, when it comes to volunteering, is that it’s appropriate to give something back. We’re called upon to serve as a fundamental responsibility. What this pitch obscures is that service is actually a privilege. Whether in a soup kitchen, battered women’s shelter, or Little League, service opens our hearts, connects us to the world, and fills the present moment with meaning. While service often provides great assistance to those in need, it foremost beneficiary is almost always the ones who serve.
Find a few hours a week for service. Choose a location or organization that you feel strongly about. Look for a position that takes advantage of your strengths or one that involves a refreshing change of pace from your usual work. Since the opportunity to make a contribution is a privilege, treat everyone you meet with appreciation.
8. INNER SMILE – Feeling joyful is not necessary for presence, but it’s one of the most powerful ways to induce it. Joy creates an almost instantaneous sense of expansion – an inner smile that’s like a warm bath. Some call this warm bath “flow” or “spirit”. Experiencing it connects us to ourselves and to everyone and everything around us.
Think about someone or something that you love. This could be a child, a place in nature, or a favorite memory. Whatever you choose, make sure that just reflecting upon it creates an automatic smile. Then surrender to that inner smile. Let it light you up. Feel it spread through your body and even beyond it, uniting you joyously with your surroundings.
9. CONSCIOUS EATING – How many times have you craved one of your favorite foods, waited all day till you could have it, and then experienced no real enjoyment because your mind began wandering even before the first bite? Such “absent eating” is the norm, but it doesn’t have to be
For a week, stay entirely focused on the experience of eating through at least part of each meal. This includes smelling, tasting, savoring, chewing, swallowing, and pausing between bites. When your mind drifts, as it inevitably will, avoid any self-criticism and just gently return your focus to the food in front of you.
10. BESTOW GRATITUDE – In the words of William Blake, “Gratitude is heaven in itself”. Just the experience of feeling grateful can connect us to a level of loving presence that’s as warm an d soothing as its profound. But the bestowing of gratitude is even ore heavenly. It creates a feedback loop of joy as long as you let it.
Think of one or more people for whom you’re deeply grateful. Be specific about why tehy inspire your gratitude. Once you’vev allowed yourself to exult in that gratitude, go ahead and share it. Don’t ask for anything in return from those you thank, except that they receive your offering.
Witness how celebrating the NOW can make you feel more alive!! TIME TO GO CELEBRATE!!! Which of these 10 can you practice today? This Week?