Late last year between June 2018 and March 2019, I was forced to go on a mandatory sabbatical because of health challenges. At the time, I had to take a complete detox from work activities and any other demanding, strenuous engagements, while I healed.
Prior to that 'nothingness' season, as I called it, my life experience was mainly centered around work, work and more work, which usually left very little room for anything else including self-care or downtime. I was so consumed with my job, working anywhere between 10 to 13 hours per day, Monday to Sunday.
Yes, my life was completely unbalanced and out of alignment. I was definitely not practicing what I preached and as such my mind and body decided to take a break from it all, by coming to a screeching halt, literally.
Needless to say, that experience has taught me a plethora of lessons and has re-enforced a multitude of reminders, which I now take care to practice and reinforce.
During that past season of my life, instead of reaching out to potential clients, in an attempt to forge new business relationships, I spent my time reaching out to my niece and nephew, giving them hugs and kisses. I moved from hosting team huddles to hosting YouTube sessions of The Farmies and Dave and Ava. No longer was I creating monthly forecasts, instead I was teaching my niece and nephew how to count and write.
Life as I once knew it had drastically changed, literally in the flash of an eye.
While I enjoyed most days of being at home and being challenged by my 1-year old teachers, truth be told, there were many days that I missed my old life. I missed being in a work environment, discussing master plans with team members, learning from others, exploring the dynamics of business and dressing up.
During those times, my mind would fluctuate between the past and the future, reminiscing on what life was prior to that time and projecting to what it would be like in the future, when I returned to the ‘real world’.
My mental time jumping, often left me with mixed feelings of sadness and anxiety, as I desired to be somewhere other than where I was.
It was the great Lau Tzu who said, "If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present." And this was exactly my experience.
My thoughts about where I was at the time was not serving me, they were preventing me from enjoying the present moment and where I was, which by the way was a great place.
At the time however, I was unable to fully enjoy being with my family and the much-needed downtime. Instead, I obsessed about being somewhere else and this caused great disharmony within.
Luckily though, I had an arsenal of present moment practices I had previously learnt and would draw on them, whenever I would slip into those past-future abysses. Once I was able to catch myself, I would spend time engaging in the techniques, which 99.9% of the time, helped me return to the present moment.
This is what my arsenal looks like:
1. Practicing being grateful for what you already have in your life- Gratitude is one of the most intentional practices you can engage in, with offers a plethora of benefits including bringing you back to the present moment.
When you focus on what is already present in your life such as the fact that you are alive, you are healthy, you have family and friends, and have a home to live in etc. you bring your attention to what is and away from the future.
2. Spending time meditating and quieting the mind- The mind generally oscillates between the past and future, infrequently existing in the present. When you meditate you are essentially training the mind to be more present, by focusing on something specific such as your breath, a mantra or music if it’s a guided meditation.
The more you train your mind to be present to what it is, the less you will experience being drawn to focus on what was or what should be.
3. Surrendering to Divine timing and knowing that everything is always working out for your highest good- Quite often, we forget that everything is subject to a process. A seed planted in the earth has a process of growth, before it can become a tree.
The same is true for all of our desires and our stages of growth. Even when we are unable to see all of the moving parts, things are always happening. When we allow ourselves to trust the process and allow things to work themselves out by letting go, we minimize any anxiety or frustration we may feel.
4. Using affirmations to help bring your mind back to the present moment- As you may know, I absolutely love using affirmations because it helps me to remember what is true, especially when my mind seems to forget. They are also extremely useful in helping you to come back to the now.
One of the affirmations I use when my thoughts are focused on the future is, “This moment is exactly as it should.” The more you repeat this affirmation, the quieter the mind becomes by accepting this reiterated truth, thereby helping you, to return to the present moment.
At the time, as much as I desired to resume working and ‘getting on with life,’ the truth is, my then situation afforded me so many blessings I would not have been able to experience, if I was otherwise engaged. These included:
1. Spending quality, extended time with my family, which was something I was unable to do previously because I was living in another country.
2. Enjoying the luxury of going at my own pace and speed and not having to stick to a specific schedule or program.
3. Experiencing more quiet time to reflect and introspect.
4. Giving my attention to meditating, writing, pursuing my personal development and doing all the things I yearned to do previously.
5. Travelling to various countries because of my availability and flexibility in my agenda.
6. Dedicating more time to working out.
7. Exploring new interests like baking and cooking.
Honestly, my nothingness season was a gift. I learnt so much, remembered so much, experienced so much, explored so much, delved into so much and became truly open to whatever else the Universe had in store for me.
As faith would have it, because I had so much time to reflect and to go within, I was able to gain crystal clarity on my way forward. It was during that season that I was inspired to start my Holistic Life Coaching Practice and began inspiring others with my speaking and writing.
When we allow ourselves to wholeheartedly live in the present moment and only visit the past and future when necessary, we open ourselves to truly experience all of the gifts, the present is always offering us.