Being Present in Your Life

Have you ever missed the mark? You are hoping for one thing, but something else happens instead? Sometimes this happens in relationship and sometimes it happens in a career—or in parenting, or projects—you name it, we often times end up somewhere other than where we thought we were going.

We initially started out with a plan and developed an expectation about the outcome. When things start to turn out differently than we had anticipated, it can be quite a shock. We are thrown into confusion and anxiety. Now what? We were so certain that what we had set out to accomplish would cooperate with our strong intentions that we had no other plan. We expected something specific to happen and when it doesn’t a crisis starts up in our lives.

How many times have you had this happen in your life? I personally can think of several instances that didn’t turn out like I had thought they would—marriages, jobs, and vacations. Each one was planned and expectations developed about how they would turn out. In reality, they turned out much differently than I had thought and not always for the better!

Does this mean that we shouldn’t plan—that we shouldn’t aim for something? Of course not! But it does make you seriously look at the idea of expectations. We are often disappointed in life. The reason is very often that reality does not meet with our expectations. We envision something. Another thing happens instead. And we are disappointed. Or disillusioned. Or discouraged.

The only way to avoid this set-up for disappointment is to actively remain in the present. When we are fully present in the now of our lives, rather than in a fantasy of the future or in the memory book of the past, we can experience life as it is. By being fully present we are alive to the moment. The challenge is to live fully each minute as it arrives.

One of the intentions I set on our recent trip to Ireland was to expect nothing but to just show up for whatever would present itself every day. One of the things that I didn’t want to do was to develop expectations about what I would experience. I wanted to be fully alive at each moment to fully experience whatever might show up.

During delays at the airports and standing in line for several hours at one point, it was easier to be present to the people experiencing this with me. Rather than be drawn into a sense of disappointment about delays or inconvenience, I could more quickly move into acceptance and a sense of aliveness by being aware of the beauty of being alive.

This is facilitated and accomplished by simply changing one’s awareness to the breath. It is impossible to fall into disappointment or discouragement when your attention is sharply focused on the simple fact of breathing in and out. It is a startling reminder that you are alive.

The art of breathing is used in labor and delivery. Natural childbirth proponents utilize this principle to help alleviate some of the stress and pain of the labor process by drawing the attention to the breath. You can make it through a lot simply by being present with the breath. In fact, you cannot only learn to accept some things, you can actually move into enjoyment. Not necessarily of the pain, but rather the transcendence of it.

Whatever you are in the process of giving birth to in your life right now, remember to breathe. Breathe in the Spirit, love, joy, peace, and abundance. Breathe out expectations, anxiety, scarcity, fear, and worry. Ahhh. Breathe in. Breathe out. Breathe.