There are several people in my life right now who are suffering from serious illnesses. These conditions seemed to arrive out of nowhere. In particular, I am thinking of two people who considered themselves healthy and active prior to the sudden onset of illness. This has caused me to again spend some time reflecting on the fragility of human beings, the impermanence of all things and the sacred nature of time. Time is a precious commodity. We don’t understand it, but one thing that is certain is that it only moves in one direction: forward. Relentless forward motion. We can’t stop it and we can’t back it up. Yet still we waste so much of it dwelling in the past or worrying about the future.
So it becomes especially important to celebrate each moment. No matter how much you think you lack or wish things were different from what they are, chances are if you really pay attention to the moment you are in right now – THIS moment – there is almost certainly at least one thing for which you can be grateful. Consider these questions: Do you have enough to eat today? (Maybe too much, but that’s another story!) Do you have a place to sleep tonight that is protected from the weather? Are you breathing? Maybe your breathing is labored or difficult, but if you’re on the planet and conscious, chances are you’re breathing. That’s a miracle right there. Take a moment to just follow your next breath. Think of how it contributes to your body’s well-being, even if it hurts. It costs nothing to pay attention to your breath and it will bring you back to the present.
Reflecting on what’s right in this moment (as opposed to what you think is “wrong”) can help you to focus on the positive aspects of your life. That may be difficult at times, so it helps to develop a practice to bring yourself back to those positives as soon as you recognize that you’ve slipped into negative thinking – that is, lamenting what’s passed or fearing what’s ahead. Recently I heard a suggestion for an anxiety-relieving practice: if you’re feeling anxious or fearful try looking around you and making a list of everything you see. It might help bring you back to the present moment or at least provide a distraction. If you read this blog you know, I’m a strong advocate of practice of any type. That’s because it works. The more you practice – anything – the more it becomes part of your life. Pretty soon it is so natural that you can’t imagine being without that practice and you miss it if something keeps you from it.
Since time is so valuable we all want to maximize that value. If you have ever been sick you know the value of good health. There are no guarantees, but there are things you can do to feel better and try to maintain good health. These are not strange new techniques. We all know what to do. Eat healthy food, get enough sleep and keep your body moving to the best of its ability. Even these simple concepts vary from person to person. There is no “one size fits all”. We each have to find our own way. But that means finding a place to start and following through. Even if you stumble, starting is the hardest part. Once you do that, it’s easy to get up and try again or try something else.
Yoga and Pilates both help us to connect mind and body so that we can begin to understand what each of our bodies requires. Those requirements will change with time, but the more tuned in you are the more you will recognize when change is needed. If these disciplines don’t work for you, find something that does. There are a myriad of ways to support your body and all its complex systems. Treating your body will also treat your mind. Whatever you choose, adopt it as a practice. Set a regular schedule that you can stick to. Start as slow as you need to so that you know you can do it. If you find you can’t stick to it, adjust the schedule. Make it work for you. Now is the time to take control of what you can control while you can control it. Take advantage of this moment. It’s the only you have.