So much of our suffering comes from not living in the present. When we are not living in the present, we are not “experiencing” life as precious. Anxiety has to do with anticipating a future moment that turns out unlike the way we would like and then resisting that future experience in our minds and bodies. We are basically fighting against a future moment that has not taken place.
I remember working with a past client who had a terminal condition called pulmonary thrombosis. She was nearing the last part of her illness knowing that she will eventually die from not being able to breathe. That would be a scary thought for anyone and her high anxiety made sense. However, here it was on a weekday afternoon, she had her sister by her side, her husband and even the caring hospice worker. And, of course, there was me doing a home visit- her therapist who also cared a great deal for her. She looked at me and told me how scared she was about when and how she will die. I told her that I understood totally and listened some more about her fear and anxiety. Then I said, “Look around your bedroom and see the eight loving eyes looking at you and sending you love. Are you experiencing that love?” She said, “No, I am feeling my terror about dying.” I then asked her to focus and pay attention to the loving energy she was receiving and just allow the love to come into her body and give the anxiety a rest for a few moments. She did that and a soft smile came on her face and she said she was feeling it (the love). She had a peaceful expression on her face.
I told her that we are all going to die some day and that even though it appears that her death was probably closer than any of ours. That like us, she should treat her life moments as precious and use the idea of the finiteness of her life as motivation to feel more love than she ever allowed herself to feel. I asked her to practice staying in the present. She did. She felt fear of course; however, there were more moments of living in the present and when she took those breaks from worry and anxiety she enjoyed her life.
Enjoying her life did not make death come any quicker. Who knows if it may have delayed death to some degree. She had more of those pleasurable moments as time went on despite being closer to her death. If she could do that under her circumstances, we all can learn to live more in the present, even if some things in our future may not go our way.
Learning to Live in Your Relationship’s Present
In the realm of relationships, living in the present is also a crucial habit to develop. Anyone in a long-term relationship has experienced being hurt by something the partner did (or didn’t do) or said (or didn’t say). We need to deal with our feelings about the past that we are still experiencing. That is a necessary communication habit to have.