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Surrendering to the present moment

In Eckhart Tolle’s book The New Earth he tells a story about two ducks and their ability to let go.

When two ducks get into a fight, it never lasts long – they soon separate and fly off in opposite directions. Each duck then flap its wings vigorously several times. This releases the surplus energy that built up in him during the fight. After they flap their wings, they fly on peacefully as if nothing had ever happened.

Now, if the duck had a human mind, this scene would go very differently. The duck may fly away peacefully, for a moment, but he would not put the fight behind him. He would keep the fight alive in his mind, by thinking and story-making.

The duck's story would probably go something like this: "I can't believe what he just did. He came within five inches of me. He has no consideration for my private space. He thinks he owns this pond. I'll never trust him again. I know he's already plotting something else to annoy me with. But I'm not going to stand for it. I'm going to teach him a lesson he will never forget."

We humans love to ruminate, replaying past situations in our heads and allowing them to impact our present. Thus stopping us from moving forward, accomplishing our goals and finding contentment. It takes inner strength and work to release the past.

Last week, my motivation was soaring. I prepared a to-do list and accomplished a lot. I was feeling great! Then on Friday, I had a challenging day. Some (helpful) feedback was hard to receive, and it stuck with me. I was reminded that I'm still learning as a business owner and leadership coach, with room for growth. What was an opportunity for development left me feeling defeated over my perceived shortcomings. Now I'm in a different mindset and struggling to finish even small tasks. I wish to emulate the duck. To let go of the story I keep telling myself about what happened a week ago, to embrace my real life in the present moment and to shake off negative energy. I long to move forward and regain my momentum.

How often have unexpected or uncomfortable events thrown you off course, derailing your progress? For me, it happens more often than I'd like to admit. Here are some ways to keep yourself moving forward, overcome obstacles, regain motivation and get back on track:

  • Recognize that life happens, both the good and the bad. Things won't always go as planned, no matter how hard we try. Continually judging ourselves based on what could have gone differently only perpetuates a cycle of dwelling in the past. Instead, acknowledge the situation and process your emotions. A good cry, nap, walk or chat with a friend can help.

  • Live in the present moment. Observe what is happening right now and appreciate it. Give the past less focus and less importance.

  • Avoid resistance. While we cannot control everything that occurs, we can control our thoughts and accept life as is. Rather than resisting things, find beauty and peace in them.

  • Adopt a resilient mindset. Notice how every experience can be a gift and an opportunity for growth. When something happens ask yourself, "What is this teaching me right now?" Viewing life in this way can be very transformative.

  • Use your body as an anchor to the present. Take a few slow, deep breaths and be aware of your senses. If you feel stuck, change your physical location, body position and what your eyes and ears are taking in.

  • Declutter. Literally let go of the stuff in your life. Cleaning out your closet, clearing out your cabinets or organizing your office can help you see what you no longer need from the past.

  • Practice self-love. Prioritize activities that nourish your mind, body and soul. Be gentle with yourself and give yourself a break. Rest.

The beauty of being human is that we aren't emotionless robots, unaffected by external factors. Life is meant to be felt — it's what makes it amazing! However, living in the past negatively affects our physical and mental wellbeing. With practice, we can learn to surrender to the present moment and move on. Embracing and accepting the now while practicing self-love. By learning to let go of what has happened, we can regain our momentum and focus on the beauty of right now.

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