It is Saturday morning at 10:00 and I find myself as far away from my real life as I could possibly imagine. I am sitting quietly in a quaint cafe overlooking a cobblestone square in Quebec City enjoying a breakfast that someone else has prepared for me. The square is quietly coming to life around me as I enjoy the stillness of my being. My usual Saturday morning at 10:00 is a frenetic mix of referee, entertainer, laundress, sunscreen applier, dresser, vitamin provider, receptionist and chief cook & bottle washer. As I tap into that Saturday morning I can feel my stomach tighten with a feeling of anxiety and fatigue.

To my complete surprise there is also a small piece of me that longs for that exuberant aliveness, vibrancy and sense of purpose.

When I am at home with my children en masse it is all about living in the Now moment. If I slip into the past or the future I am in danger of being swallowed up by the intensity of the action by which I am surrounded. I am like a conductor who knows every single part of the score and yet cannot afford the indulgence of getting sucked into any one part for fear of losing the flow of the whole. And like the conductor I am completely absorbed by and focused on my children and the running of the household when we are home together (which of the two gets more focus and attention is a topic for another blog!).

When I am away from my children it is an entirely different story and I tend to spend most of my time in either the past or the future. I fret over decisions made or action taken in the past and worry over possible circumstances in the future. With everything going on with Michael right now I am spending an inordinate amount of time in the future. I expend copious amounts of energy on possible scenarios that are each more exhausting and anxiety-provoking than the last. I feel as if I scurry back and forth between past and future like an anxious chipmunk leaping from tree to tree and never standing still. This level of frenetic activity in my mind means that the Now does not even exist for me. I am quite simply too busy and too stressed to notice.

The irony of ignoring the Now is that it is the only reality that actually exists. From that standpoint it seems that I am choosing to allow life to pass me by without actually living it.

Being away from the kids for more than a few hours has allowed me to remember an exercise that my dear friend Megan taught me which I used to practice quite regularly. I imagine that I am standing in the centre of a large circle. The centre of the circle is Now and around the outside of the circle are four words; past, future, you and me. The goal is to stay in the centre of the circle and notice how easy it is to be pulled out into any of the four parts hungrily awaiting my attendance. Being pulled out of the centre is not a failure but simply another opportunity to notice that I am no longer in the Now. Every time I notice is yet another opportunity to return. With all the stress and worry of the past months I have completely forgotten how powerful this practice can be.  

I awakened this morning after the best sleep I have had in months and felt my stomach tighten with anxiety. I felt like our time away was passing too quickly and I was dreading having to return home tomorrow to all the chaos and uncertainty of my life. As the panic washed over me I could feel a familiar and gentle pull. I suddenly found myself in the centre of the circle that I have not visited in months and I felt like the Prodigal Son returning home. It was so peaceful within the circle and I was so welcome there I wondered why I had stayed away for so long. As I lingered there in complete awe, a question quietly entered the space; what is available in the Now? Such a simple and yet provocative question and with absolutely no judgement or expectation attached.

What is available in the Now?

The answer is stunningly simple and resonant; peacefulness, calm, quiet and a sense of being fully at choice. I have just remembered that I have the freedom to stay in the centre of the circle and let Now centre me and guide me. I also remember that when I was practicing this technique regularly I was much more able to handle the events that would normally knock me off balance. Has there ever been a time in my life when I needed this practice more?  

So here I am back where I started in the peaceful cobblestone square with my beloved husband sitting across from me reading the paper. I have no idea what we are doing next and it doesn’t matter because that is a whole bunch of Now moments away and I will know when I get there.

The gift of this long weekend is that I have been reminded about how joyful and peaceful it can be to live in the Now. Can I take it home in my suitcase? Will it withstand the bumpy flight home? Will it shy away from the chaos and madness of my real life? I simply do not have the answers to those questions but they lie in the future so I will now drift easily back into the centre of the circle and just be.

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