“How did it get so late so soon? It’s night before it’s afternoon. December is here before it’s June. My goodness how the time has flewn. How did it get so late so soon?”
The twelfth and final month of 2014 has arrived, and many of us are probably wondering, Hmmm. Where exactly did this year go? It seems like it was just New Year’s Eve! Dr. Seuss’s rhyme couldn’t be more apropos! It is almost as if we jumped into a time machine and scooted ahead eleven months, and yet we know that so much has happened these past 8,064 hours!
Yes, that’s right—it has been 8,064 hours since last New Year’s Eve. To put this into greater perspective, we’ve just spent a little over 29 million seconds living our lives this year. Of course, nearly one-third of those seconds has been spent sleeping, assuming we get a full night’s rest. So, basically, 2014 has given us the gift of 19 million plus seconds to fully appreciate and participate in life, present and aware.
Today, I am asking myself, “Was I fully present for every one of those seconds?” I know it is incredibly difficult to say, “Yes, I have been present for every one of those seconds!” With all we want to accomplish and achieve in an ordinary day, it is easy to get caught up in fast-forward mode and find the seconds ticking away unnoticed. In fact, this year with the launch of my book The Practice and the book-related events and interviews that ensued (in addition to all my other activities and obligations), some parts of my life felt like they were happening at a quickened speed!
I am blessed that I have cultivated a practice for the past thirty years that allows me to slow down and check in with myself every morning. This “sitting with myself” aligns my mind, body, and heart before I go out into the world. I’m literally plugging in to me first—which gives me a greater perspective on the day, a grounded place from which to respond to others, which places me in a much better position to really “be” in the moments of my day.
This time of year always has a sense of “hurry up and get it all done.” We generally feel a tremendous amount of pressure and anxiety. As the year comes to a close, I offer the tips below to slow down just enough to really appreciate our lives and the people we love and to truly be in the moment for the remaining 2.5+ million seconds of 2014.
- Wake up & stop. I cannot repeat this often enough. Rather than get up and hit the ground running, sit with yourself for 5 minutes of quiet contemplation and meditation to bring yourself into the present moment and to feel connected within.
- Practice Focused Attention. You have 86,400 seconds each day (counting sleep) to practice being present. These are opportunities to really be fully aware of the moment! Take one area of your life this month and give it your full attention: when you’re having dinner with family or friends, be there fully (no phone or newspaper); when you are on the phone, sit down and really give the person “all of you”—no TV or walking around doing chores. Or try this one: no texting or talking on the phone while driving. Give the road your full attention.
- Turn to your Sacred Mantra. One minute you are fully appreciating the moment, and then, suddenly your mind goes off in another direction and you become lost in “random thoughts” about the past or the future. We all do this, but to really be present in the here and now, a sacred phrase can interrupt the thoughts and bring your mind back to being in the moment.
* * *
Having a daily framework for life like The Practice has been an essential part of my life for decades. This year especially, I have deeply felt the importance of slowing down enough to appreciate the many millions of moments I had been blessed with. The time might have “flewn” as Dr. Seuss playfully states, but I truly know I lived each moment.