Achieving and maintaining the here and now moment, also referred to as the state of flow or being in the zone.
Imagine a surfer on the crest of a wave. He’s playfully gliding along, being in the moment and enjoying complete control of the water underneath. He’s “caught his wave”. This is how I want to feel every moment of my life, and here are my personal hacks and tricks to catch my own wave.
Disclaimer: I wrote this article for myself. Most of the techniques have been taken from different sources and combined with my own experiences and guesswork. If you have a question or need more explanation – hit me up in the comments below. You’re welcome to grab whatever you like but take it with a grain of salt.
1. Start with your imagination
If you want to reach the top, you must do so mentally first. Most of the changes occur initially in your imagination because the state of “here and now” takes place in your mind. For example, if you feel depressed, just imagine turning the world upside down to reverse the order of things. Jump right on top of it. Be playful. Life is so easy. Don’t let compulsive thinking drag you down again and again.
There are multiple techniques to enable you to use your imagination in full. Make a dream board. Read, write or repeat affirmations. Visualize. Meditate. I personally have a wish diary I (I am serious) and a list of affirmations I write down every day in order to help me overwrite my existing program. Fake it till you make it as they say. It works for me and at least several I talk to the most.
2. Do not judge (or compare)
Most of us grew up in the world of judgement and comparison. This is where some of our deepest fears and insecurities come from. In fact, in mother nature, assessment doesn’t even exist. It’s the product of your brain, unnecessary most times. Unless you professionally help people by giving your feedback – and only when they ask for it – your opinion is not needed. Just as a test, try not to score or evaluate anything: things, situation, people and most of all – yourself.
My simple rule is: “Avoid all the words that carry an assessment, both in speaking and thinking, such as, or similar to, good / bad, like / dislike, successful / failed”.
Comparison is a form of judgement. Especially a comparison reality with your expectations. I suggest you read the article, Why Generation Y Yuppies Are Unhappy. And if you really have a strong opinion about something, think instead “What lesson can I learn from this?” Write it down (this is important because an hour later, you won’t remember a thing) and make sure to learn and apply it next time. You will benefit a lot. Just trust me.
3. Slow down… or speed up
Every wave has length. Every movement has a speed. Generally, at the very beginning, you need to take things slow while you’re learning and getting used to the action. Once you got it, add some speed. If you feel too anxious – slow down. When boredom sets in, add a challenge or speed up until you get on top again.
4. Take an action instead of thinking
Some people, including myself, tend to replace acting with thinking. We spend more time replaying and repeating the same old scenarios in our head, instead of taking the first step. Movement gets the flow going. Yes, it’s really that simple. And this is a perfect example of when being too smart can hurt.
5. Focus on your reaction instead of the situation
There’s no point worrying about things you can’t control. Instead direct your energy towards things that you can. You can’t change the situation but you can choose how to react to it. And when you feel good about your solution regardless of the problem, you’re on top of the game. Already.
In the long run, it pays off to eliminate things that keep you from being in the here and now. Start with noticing what gets you off your zone. Then it’s easy to find a way to avoid this in the future.
Major issues that prevent you from being in the moment:
- Worries. Use Morning Pages to lock them on a paper. Read about this incredible tool.
- Judging. Judging triggers fear. Cut it off as I mentioned above.
- Compulsive thinking. Keep your mind busy to hold internal dialogue.
- Assessment. Don’t rate yourself until the job is done and it’s really needed.
- Other distractions that cause multitasking – learn to do one thing at a time.
Dima is going to the gym. During his workout, messages, emails, random thoughts and hunger invade his mind, distracting from doing exercise. He keeps thinking of food, looking at his phone, responding to messages, Google searching for random things and forgetting what he’s here for. His body cools down and forwards energy towards his brain to think. Eventually, Dima looses his here and now focus, runs out of time and leaves the gym frustrated and thinking about million things, as opposed to being proud of another great complete workout.
What does he do next time before leaving for the gym? 1. Eat. 2. Turn phone on Airplane Mode. 3. Write the Morning Pages to lock compulsive thinking on paper so it won’t bother him. This is in a perfect world. Of course, it takes discipline and practice to develop perfect habits, but the solution is always present.
Explore your own ways to achieve the here and now
This is introductory material for living in the present moment. People spend years developing this skill and discovering the best way to stay in the “here and now”. Dig deeper into the directions that resonates to you and share your experience in the comments below.