Neil Mach

Author – Fantasy Realism

Our life right now is full of worry. We have so many anxieties that we don’t know where to start. How do we continue? What will happen next? But the biggest threat to our mental health is caused by circumstances beyond our control: things that happened in the past or that could happen in the future.

If you think you may have lost orientation in the last few months; and you are confused about what is best to do, for you and / or your loved ones, and you guess that you may be suffering a crisis of confidence as well as a personal identity crisis and you’re becoming evermore disoriented by all the bad vibes that the Universe is throwing at you… it is likely that you have lost your way. You have lost your way to now.

lost your way to now?

They say that living in the present is a great awakening… but what is it a great awakening from? Is it an awakening from past bad dreams?  Is it an awakening from future nightmares? If you are one of the many who struggle against the trials of the past and the (imagined) dangers of the future, then it is time for you to live in the now. The truth is that neither the past nor the future have any power over us. Yet  we spend so much time preoccupied with what are, in essence, metaphysical constructions. The past and the future exist outside our plane of existence. The only thing that really matters, actually, is the immediate herein.

find the immediate herein

So here are some tips to get you back on track, so you can start living in the now:

  • Living in the present is likely to be a new skill for you. So you will have to learn to do it! First, write a list of everything you have to be thankful for today. This should not be a list of accomplishments, achievements, nostalgic joys, or past glories, nor should it be a list of aspirations or expectations. See? It’s harder than you think, listing things that are important right now. So take time to consider your list carefully; reflect on it; spin the ideas in your mind
  • Dive into a project that’s creative, start a new hobby that incorporates both an element of play and technique: drawing, air-fix modeling, Lego, jewelry-making, scratch art, flower crafts, or anything that provides a sense of accomplishment with a degree of concentration. The idea is to focus on something that brings joy and isolates you from the extraneous & jarring noise of the universe.
  • Now has never been a better time to be a kid in your own world. See the world from knee height (you don’t have to literally get onto your hands & knees to do this), but maybe envision your day as your six-year-old self. What’s fun about right now? What do you really want to do? What do you really want to eat? What do you really want to play? What do you really want to wear? How do you really feel most comfortable? How do really you want to sit? Nothing can bother you now, because you have such meager expectations. You don’t need permission from anyone else for these immediate wishes to come true (although it might be a good idea to tell your partner or family member before you come-over all childish) but this exercise is about creating an easy perspective
  • Problems are unavoidable, but they only occur in the future or are  “felt” when they intrude from the past.  If you continue to focus on problems (and even solutions), you will find yourself trapped in a never-ending cycle of worry and defeat. So close your head to problems and focus on someone you love. Write your dearest heart a poem (it doesn’t have to rhyme) or a story (with them as the main character) or if you don’t like to write, draw a picture or make a greeting card for them. Or you can use one of your newly learned skills (from your creative hobby, as described in paragraph 2 above) to make a special gift for them. Your creation does not have to be handed over to the apple of your eye, that’s not the point, the goal here is to dedicate time, energy and spontaneity to another
  • One of the reasons we worry so much about the future is because we don’t trust the flow of the Universe. However, the universe is quite reliable. One way to prove this to yourself is by breathing. When you breath in it’s called “inspiration” and when you breath out, it’s called “expiration.” Throughout a worrisome life, many of us have adapted a “stressed” breathing pattern in which we breathe too shallowly (often due to poor posture) and too quickly — when we ought to be taking nice, long, deep, slow and steady breaths. And we ought to be concentrating on the “inspiration” bit that comes during the inhalation, and we must learn to push away all the unwanted stuff in our lives during the exhalation. So why not give yourself the easiest workout of your life! Set your timer for two minutes and try breathing! You don’t need to hold your breath, you don’t need to count to any special number and you don’t need to “feel” your diaphragm or any other mumbo-jumbo hippie stuff… just breathe for two minutes and focus on “inspiration” and “expiration.”
  • We live in a time of constant distraction and the past and future continue to scream at us from televisions, screens, gadgets, written words, music, slogans, memes, adverts and messages. Shut them out! Take back control of your happiness! You don’t have to do this all day. Or even half your day. But you should be able to prevent distracting pollution coming in from the leaking Universe for at least a short period. Put your devices away, turn off sounds, close your eyes (put on a serenity mask / sleep mask if it helps) put in some soft foam earplugs (or noise-canceling headphones, with nothing connected, of course), calm down and indulge yourself in a settle. Go ahead, give it a try. You don’t need to meditate, or pray, or get into a difficult yoga position for this nowness exercise … just practice emptiness ten minutes each day. 

Ideas, questions, or comments? Tweet me @neilmach Let me know if you have found your now

Words: @neilmach 2021 ©

Neil Mach is author of “So You Want to Write Fantasy?” and host of the Myth & Magic fantasy writer’s podcast.

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