Saturday, February 20, 2010

The moment called "Now"

Have you ever noticed all of the strange thoughts that pop into your mind all day long? Some are pleasant, others not so much. Some are loving, some are not. Some are patient, some are not. Some are brief and some are frequent. It is easy to allot different values to each one- to praise myself for having a compassionate thought or scold myself for being impatient. And then to scold myself for having a negative thought following the scolding.

In the end each thought is only that- a thought. It is I who makes the ultimate decision whether or not to follow it with a behavior, to give power over to it by letting it consume me (by feeling bad for a while for having wished the person in line in front of me would make a quicker decision, for example). Then one might make the leap from thoughts to beliefs- because I had an impatient thought, I am an impatient person, and being impatient is “bad” so I am in the wrong.

This is when it is important to take a step back. Mindfully observing thoughts is like sitting back and watching the clouds pass, without judgment. No single thought, impulse, urge, or desire is who you are. I can let them come and go without getting caught up in them. I don’t need to cling to or ruminate on any of them. I can simply let them be, coming and going as they will (and they will).

I like to take note of particular thoughts and challenge them. When I feel the need to hurry, I challenge myself to move slowly and notice each small movement and ask myself what I am rushing away from. When I feel a strong desire to get off the phone, I challenge myself to listen to the person speaking and ask myself why it upsets me. When I feel angry that someone said something, I try to find forgiveness and ask if I have ever said something similar. Then forgive myself for what I said.

Sometimes a whole conversation will come and go and I will notice I missed what the person said. A whole drive home but I can’t remember what songs were on the radio. A whole day but I can’t remember what I did before work or what my boyfriend wore. Getting lost in our thoughts means that we are not fully experiencing the present moment. A whole day spent in worry and frustration over planning how I will get through all the tasks I have to do this month or what I forgot to do last month. We have this feeling of a vast past lying behind us and a vast future of things to do and see with just this tiny grain of sand we call the present moment separating the two. The truth is all we have is this vast, never ending, constantly fruitful moment called NOW.

Did you notice how the lathering soap felt on your hands or how sweet the squirrels chasing each other around a tree were today?


Christine McRice

Christine is a TAC intern. She co-leads the Tuesday night ANAD support group.

Thursday, February 18, 2010


“The ability to simplify means to eliminate the unnecessary so that the necessary may speak.” Hans Hofmann

When thinking about the many challenges of recovery and living an authentic, fulfilled life the idea of simplicity came to mind. This may seem to be the very opposite of our tendency as often we think that building a life that is fulfilling must be complex and complicated. To be happy, satisfied and content we often get trapped in the overwhelming thoughts of all that we must accomplish or change. We get stuck in all the noise of what we don’t know or what must be figured out. “Well when I get that to do list checked off I’ll feel better” or “As soon as I get my degree and get started on the career path I desire I will feel better” or “When I finally get to travel and get away I’ll feel better.” We focus on the future, the things we must do and all that needs to get done.

What if what would make us content and at peace is an option now? What if it is possible to have fulfillment and happiness while we work on ourselves and continue marching forward? So often we are taught and told that there are things and ways to feel happy. We are sold the lies that when we conquer our fears, when we find that relationship, when we have more money, when we buy that thing we will have happiness. The problem is we keep trying these paths to happiness and peace and they all end up as dead ends. We keep looking for the magic answer that is going to give us what we desire and we are continually disappointed until we start looking in a new direction. In.

We look for things outside of ourselves to fulfill us, define us, or take away the discontent. We make things more complicated that they need to be and think happiness has to wait while we figure it all out. What would happen if we slowed down, quieted down the noise and looked inside? What could our day look like and feel like if we chose to listen to ourselves and all the answers that already lie within? Trusting this place inside ourselves certainly takes time and practice but there is so much knowledge if we just slow down and look inside.

When we look inside and focus on what we know, what needs to be heard and how we are feeling we can truly move forward in a way that is going to feel fulfilling. We may not feel the peace, happiness or comfort immediately. But at least it gives us the chance to begin building a life based on a true sense of satisfaction. By focusing on this moment and just simply taking the next right step for ourselves we get back to looking inwards. There is a powerful, intuitive, and infinite knowledge we all have inside that we often deny and trade for the promise of external solutions that guarantee eventual satisfaction.

My hope is that we can all begin slowing down our days, finding ways to connect to that internal knowledge, and trust all we have inside to bring happiness. We often need to be reminded to quiet all the noise so we can truly hear the significant and meaningful choices that can bring the peace and joy we all desire. Taking time to pause and appreciate the simple pleasures in our lives can give us a sense of stillness and tranquility that allows the many insights we desire to emerge.


Jen Schurman, MA, LPC