Ask the Coach — Week 15
This is the column where, each week, I’ll be answering one website visitor’s question in hopes of supporting all visitors through shared (and likely, relevant) challenges, triumphs, and struggles.
My partner and I are going on vacation soon and capping off our trip with a concert by one of our favorite musicians. I’m struggling with getting myself to stay present to enjoy our time away, without wishing away the days in anticipation of the show. Any tips?
Present-Moment-Challenged in Philadelphia
In today’s hectic world, it’s tricky for anyone to remain very present. With an upcoming vacation, it can be even tougher. You spend so much time and energy anticipating the arrival of your trip, that once you’re there, you push yourself to make the most of it. You may fall into the thinking of “This is my last vacation ever.” Or “We better see EVERYTHING because we will never, ever be back here again.” You can feel so much pressure to enjoy your time away that the stress to do so often has the opposite effect. Isn’t that fun? 😉
I think the first and most important step to bringing yourself back to the present moment is to recognize when you’re not. It’s in that recognition that you’ve already brought yourself back. See how easy that was? Once you get back to the present moment, try asking yourself some silly questions to keep you there for a bit; things like, “Where are my feet right now?” or “What color socks am I wearing?”
You can also take conscious measures to pull your energy more fully back into the present moment. Close your eyes (that act alone immediately helps because all visual distractions are gone), and do some slow deep breathing. Do this for at least 30 seconds, preferably more. Then pause, take a look around, and appreciate the very moment that you’re in by commenting, either out loud or to yourself, about something in your environment. “Wow, look how beautiful the sky is.” “The architecture on that building is incredible!” “That cloud looks like a bunny!” You know, things like that. 🙂
If you want to take it a step further, check this out. A good friend of mine taught me a technique that, for me, works like magic. You need to be a bit of a visualizer, and for some, it may sound a bit “out there”, but stay with me here. Read through this first and then give it a go.
Imagine your energy body outside of you, above your head. You can visualize it any way you want – I visualize a shadowy body of light above me – and I check in with my gut to gauge how far out of my body I am, or how not present I am. Do you see your energy body from just the waist up? Or do you see your feet on top of your head, meaning you’re completely out of your body? Once you can sense your energy outside of you, imagine taking your shadowy, energy hands into your real-life hands, and gently guiding your energy back down, pulling it through your crown chakra. I picture an open circle of light around my crown, welcoming in my energy.
Imagine your energy slowly moving down into your physical body. The first couple of times around, it will take some patience. If, at any time, you feel like the energy gets stuck anywhere or it doesn’t feel like it’s going any further, pause and take some deep breaths, and then continue. See where you’re at in the process. For instance, check in to see where your energy feet are — are they at your shoulders? Your chest? Your waist? And so on. Do this until you feel like your energy feet have reached your physical feet, or when your energy is fully back in tact. When you do, now imagine a gentle clip or clasp closing, securing your energy feet to your physical feet. You’ll feel much more calm, present, and settled. It may sound kooky, but it works!
I hope these suggestions can help you enjoy your time away, trusting that each and every day will be a blessing and a gift — without you even have to work at it to make it so!
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Now that I’m back from vacation, I thought I’d drop you a note to tell you how helpful your advice was. I actually did pretty well for most of the trip. When I felt myself getting spacey, I was able to concentrate on my surroundings and bring myself back to the present.
The place I really used your advice was, ironically, the concert. Because I’m such a superfan, I found out the playlist before the concert. At one point, I found myself counting the number of songs before the end. Another time, I found myself wondering how I’d feel when the concert was over. I was able to refocus my attention thanks to the info you gave me.
The concert was fantastic, fantastic, fantastic, by the way. I laughed, I cried, and he sang “Memory’ better than the chick did in Cats. Seriously, check it out: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=dB4K4yZKF9s.