TWINTHOMAS flickr Creative CommonsMost of us are constantly thinking about the past or worried about the future. We are determined that our life should be different than it is. We fret over past decisions and experiences and fear for what the future might bring. Unfortunately, as we remember bad things that happened in the past or we worry about possible bad things that might happen in the future, we induce in the present the same stress response that occurs when we are actually in a stressful situation.

What this simply means is that 99% of the anxiety, fear and stress we experience has nothing to do with what is happening in our lives right now. In other words, the actual moment we are in probably has nothing stressful about it at all. The stress response we’re feeling is being induced by our mind dwelling on the past or worrying about the future.

So, simply by returning our thoughts to the present moment we can dissolve about 99% of our stress. Now, that’s any easy thing for me to say, but how do you actually do it? Well, for starters, just do the deep breathing exercise. Deep breathing helps pull you back into the present moment, because you can’t breathe in the past or the future. You can only breathe right now.

And, therein lies the secret to bringing your mind back to the present. Just turn your attention to anything which can only be done in the present moment. Here are some practical suggestions.

First, your senses only operate in the present moment. Unless you have some paranormal ability that I don’t have, your eyes can only see what is in the present, your ears can only hear what is in the present and you can only touch what is present. (Yes, you can remember sensory input or imagine potential sensory input, but you can only experience sensory input in the present moment.)

So, after you’ve taken your deep breaths, open your eyes (not just physically, but mentally). Look at your surroundings. Listen to the sounds around you. Notice your body. Feel the sensations of your clothing against your skin. You can also involve your smell and taste. Don’t let your brain analyze and dismiss what is around you. Instead, just open up your senses and experience it.

Here’s another great exercise I learned from Eckhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now. He suggests that you should ask yourself this question, “What in this moment is lacking?” Try it, right now as you read this article. Stop, take a few deep breaths and ask yourself, “What, in this moment is lacking?” Maybe a bill is due tomorrow that you don’t have the money to pay and you’re worried about your utilities being shut off. But, how is everything right now, this very instant?

The truth is that 99% of the time, nothing is wrong in the present moment. We just allow the 1% bad moments to overshadow our lives by constantly rehashing them or trying to figure out how we can never let them happen again. This is an awfully stressful way to live.

In the New Testament, Jesus recommended that we, “Take no thought for the morrow…sufficient unto the day is the evil thereof.” It’s sound advice. We can only deal with the problems of today. What is past is past and what is done is done. We can’t change it. And, tomorrow we can deal with tomorrow’s problems. Focus on today, or more importantly on the task right in front of your face, and you’ll find that much of your stress will disappear.

About Steven Horne, RH (AHG)

Steven Horne is a Registered Herbalist with and a past president of the American Herbalist Guild (AHG). He is the author of numerous books and courses on herbs and natural healing and has lectured on this subject all over the world. He is the father of five children, who were all raised on natural remedies. Because he’s learned how to provide primary health care to his children in the home, he’s only had to make three visits to a medical doctor for illnesses with his five children.

Copyright Steven H. Horne

www.steven-horne.com