On a recent holiday on the beautiful sunshine island of Lanzarote, I noticed that all the little houses had names, e.g., Paradise; Enchanted; Casina etc and one day I discovered a little house tucked in a corner with a beautiful garden full of Bougainvillea in every shade of red, that covered the garden and flowed over the walls that protected the house. The name given to the house was Hope, and it suddenly made me feel quite sad, at first I wondered why, but as I thought about it, I could see that hope can be a sad little word, there is something tragic about it. If we are living with hope, then we are not living in the present, we put all our thoughts and energies into hoping for a better future. Whatever our troubles or problems are now, we are spending our life hoping that in the future things will get better and we let today pass us by.
Being alive in the present but always hoping for better days is how we lose our life; we lose all the wonderful moments we have every minute of every day that are so special and so precious and once they are gone will never return. If you can stop hoping then you can come back into the present moment and enjoy life now. If you wait on a better future always hoping life will be different, then you will spend your life hoping. One day you will turn around and see there is no more life left. It has gone and you missed living now because you spent all your time in an imaginary future that never came.
I am not saying that hope is not important, if there is a particularly painful experience in your life right now, it is good to hope that in the future time will heal and it will be easier to bear. Believing time will heal and tomorrow will be better helps us bear difficult times today. That is all hope is good for, it is not a magic elixir for living our lives and for making everything better.
Whatever is going on in your life right now, whatever hurt, worry or upset you are feeling there are also many things that are going right with your life, if you pause to think of all the good things in your life, even the small everyday things that we can take for granted. Our family, our friends, nature, the sound of birds outside, your health, the taste of a warm cup of tea, a walk on the beach. If we can only take the time to come back to this moment and focus on our breath, then we will see there are so many things that we have right now to be grateful for. I am sure you can easily think of 10 things without too much bother that make you happy, that make you feel at peace.
I am not saying that you should never have hope, of course, if used for a certain situation to know that things in the future will be easier, will be less painful then a sprinkling of hope will help, but living in hope as a general concept for all areas of your life will never bring the happiness and peace you seek today, at this moment.
To help bring yourself into the present moment when you feel your mind is full of too much thinking, take the time out to practice your breathing. Have a breathing practice that does not take long but that you can practice regularly throughout the day. Every time you catch yourself thinking about the future you can stop and take a few mindful breaths and come back into the moment.
Breathing Exercise to Relax
As you breathe in, say to yourself:
“I am breathing in this wonderful moment of my life”
and as you breathe out say to yourself:
“I am breathing out at this moment”
and as you breathe in:
“How perfect is my life at this moment”
and as you breathe out:
“I am breathing out at this moment and there is no other moment”
Do this at least 3 times, focusing all the while on your breathing. It is a lovely little breathing exercise to use whenever you feel the need to come back to yourself, whenever you feel overwhelmed with life, and at the end of each round, try to smile gently, and feel how good it feels in your body when you smile. Just a little smile can release so much tension.
The wonderful thing about this simple exercise is that you can do it anywhere at any time, and the more you do it the calmer you will start to feel. It is not something you try once and forget, it is something to be done at regular times throughout the day, maybe even on the hour every hour as a reminder to always come back to yourself, to always come back to this moment.
“We’re so busy watching out for what’s just ahead of us that we don’t take time to enjoy where we are.” ― Bill Watterson