By eM Life
Living Life to the Fullest
Settling back into a vacation at the beach has always been my most perfect way to recharge. One particular day as I relaxed on a beach in Maui, I experienced a state of mind where I truly saw the beauty of the day.
As waves broke on the shore, seabirds roamed the sand, scavenging for food. Crabs emerged from their subterranean homes and scuttled across the beach. Lying back on my towel, I watched billowing clouds extend in slow motion across the sky. Transfixed, I gazed at them for several minutes as they changed into different shapes. A breeze wafted over my skin and the sun warmed my body to a happy glow. I was there, in the moment, experiencing what was actually happening in all its glory.
Thoughts of my job, my life on the mainland, my obligations, my never-ending to-do list – all of those worries and concerns fell away. My body relaxed, and my mind became quiet.
During that day on the beach, I realized what it means to live life to the fullest by being present.
The experience also made me realize that most of my problems begin with my mind. Left to its own devices my mind spins an endless web of worries, plans, judgments and fears about what I can or can’t control and if I’ll ever achieve what I want.
My mind seems to be my master. It keeps me busy thinking about the past and the future, missing the reality and even the wonder of what’s happening right now. But, for a time, on that sun-kissed tropical beach, the natural beauty and peace of the place, allowed me to be present and let go of the daily grind. I found myself in the moment, judging nothing and enjoying what was.
A momentary event on a vacation is great, but how can you bring that mental posture into everyday life?
For me, it took time, effort and much introspection to find the answer. Here’s what I discovered. There’s a constancy that lives at the core of me and it has never changed. It’s my awareness. I have been aware since the moment I was born. I have thoughts, feelings, bodily sensations, memories and perceptions. But I am not those things. Those are experiences I have. But they don’t define who or what I am.
Often, we make the mistake of thinking we are our thoughts and feelings. But throughout our lives our thoughts, feelings and sensations have continually flickered through our consciousness. Our minds are like the horde of sea birds I watched – hovering, whizzing, soaring and diving – into the water that day in Maui. Our minds are in constant motion – always active, always changing. But our awareness is constant. Once we realize our true center is our awareness, we can lean back and settle in to the flow of our lives. In many ways, this is what it means to be mindful.
Mindfulness is the awareness that arises when you pay attention on purpose to the present moment, non-judgmentally. Learning to trust your awareness and be mindful of the thoughts and feelings that run rampant through your mind takes time and practice. As I found myself becoming more aware of my thoughts, feelings and perceptions, I’ve learned how to work with them mindfully.
When I’m worrying about something, I take a breath, relax and say to myself: “Oh, I am having the experience of worry. Isn’t that interesting?” I might find myself chuckling at the experience of worry because, with practice, I’ve come to know that worry is nothing more than a thought that comes and goes. Again, it’s not who or what I am. Anger? “Oh yes, I’m experiencing anger. Isn’t that interesting?” Fear? “Oh my, I’m experiencing fear. Isn’t that interesting?”
As I’ve practiced this, over time, my stressful thoughts and feelings have lost their power over me. I’ve found I can gently laugh at them and say: “O.K. thoughts. Thanks for coming by!”
My experiences have simply become “interesting.” I don’t judge them. I don’t criticize them or try to ignore them. Nor do I try to follow them to see where they lead me. I just let them be. Surprisingly, I’ve found myself in a peaceful state of mind and in the present moment more often instead of being pulled this way and that way by my feelings, perceptions, sensations and memories.
Over the years, my anxiety and worry have faded and, overall, I believe my mental health has improved.
Since that life-changing day in Maui, I’ve learned a lot more about mindfulness, and it’s improved almost every aspect of my life. Whether I’m facing pain, stress or other hardships, I find I can always choose to be aware of my transient thoughts, feelings, and sensations rather than get caught up and carried away by them. eM Life is a resource you can tap into to learn how to use mindfulness to improve your life. I don’t know if it will take you to Maui, but I’m pretty sure you’ll learn how to become more present and life you’re life more fully.
Ready to be More Present?
For years eM Life has been a resource to help individuals live a more present life. Whether you need help balancing the various stressors we all face throughout life, or you’re trying to maintain balance during a difficult time, eM Life is available. Expert instructors guide participants through various mindfulness exercises that promote healing from the inside out. Learn more about eM Life’s specific pain point programs:
- Stress Less Live More – Learn how to better manage your stress and work to improve your quality of life
- QuitSmart Mindfully – A program to help you break habits in a mindful manner
- Living Well with Chronic Pain – Harness your mind’s power to quiet the pain
- Better Living with Diabetes – A one of a kind program made for those living with diabetes
- Weight Balance – A powerful mind-body approach to how we live and eat
Your journey to becoming more present in your daily life is here, start your free trial to eM Life.
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Also published on Medium.