Traveling to the other side of the world to find out that the most important thing is, in fact, to be there in that moment.
Two weeks ago I attended three amazing conferences in San Francisco. Enough intellectual food to keep me blogging until the end of September. But if you would ask me to choose just one thing that really struck me, it is the phrase that was accidentally uttered by my co-biking colleague as we were ascending one of the steepest streets of San Francisco. With a bicycle… I kid you not.
- He said: “I am Geert and I am climbing one of the steepest streets in San Francisco by bike next to my buddy Luc”.
- Me: “Huh?”
- Him: “Oh, never mind, I was just talking to myself.”
- Me (breathing heavily): “No, please I insist this sounds intriguing.”
- Him: “I learned this from someone who had learned it from a psychiatrist. It’s an exercise to get back into the here and now. I was actually thinking ‘Oh my God this is so unique, please let me fully be here and enjoy this’. And that’s when I thought of this exercise. But I was breathing too heavy, so you heard what I tried to whisper to myself.”
- Me: “Sounds cool. Let me try it… I am Luc and I am standing on top of one of the steepest hills in San Francisco with Geert, we are overlooking Alcatraz and I am sweating like a horse.”
For your information, no miracles, changes or events occurred the moment that I made that declaration. But the sensation of being there had more meaning because the sentence, the words, the sound of my voice and the listening activity of myself were all focussed on processing the information about the here and now.
Again: not spectacular at all… And that’s the whole point. Declaring who, what and where you are brings you right into that moment – but at the same time it detaches you from a thought of the past or the future. For me personally it draws my attention away from worries about the future. I have been trying it for two weeks now and it works really well. As a matter of fact, it works really good in two specific cases:
1. ‘God let me enjoy this’ – those moments when your brain is filled with the fear of not being able to take in the beauty of moment. Pinch yourself in the arm or simply try saying “I am *** and I am overlooking the Grand Canyon” or “I am *** and I am crying tears of happiness at the birth of my daughter”.
2. ‘Un-numb this moment’ – those moments when you just wait until it is over. Standing in line at a counter, filling up the car with gas, being stuck in a traffic jam, boring yourself on Facebook. Try to declare that – without guilt (this exercise is not about good or bad, just about being in the now). You will see what it means when Eckhart Tolle says ‘I am in joy in my self’ as an alternative to ‘I am enjoying myself’.
I have found that it is important to make this declaration out loud and to make as many declarations as you feel are necessary about the what, who and where. And by the way, I have no trouble relating that practice to our profession as organizational change practitioners, because we cannot change the past or the future. We can only shape the present. Therefore, any trick or excercise that can help me to gain more traction on the present moment is a true gift.
Do you know about similar experiments or can you explain why this is so powerful? Please let us know in the comments.
Greetings from me, here, typing this, and being in joy in my self. 🙂
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