QUOTE: The present moment is the only moment available to us, and it is the door to all moments. - Thich Nhat HanhOver the weekend I got to go on a quick getaway to Palm Springs with my husband without the kids! We had been looking forward to the overnight trip for weeks. When we arrived, I felt agitated and closed off.

Being present isn’t easy. To just sit in the exact moment that you are in without thinking about the future or looking at the past is much harder than it sounds. I found myself irritable at the beginning of the day, and nothing was wrong – except my thinking. I was jacked up about a situation that is happening with a friend, and my mind was going over all of the scenarios of what I thought she should do and how she should do it. My mind was stuck in a loop, wanting to fix a circumstance that has absolutely nothing to do with me. And yet, my mind didn’t want to let go of it.

After I had some caffeine and looked at a $16.99 sale rack (warning, none of the cute items are made for women over 30), I felt a bit better. My mind eased up a bit on the situation with my friend, and I relaxed just a little. As my husband and I walked past a Mexican food restaurant, my mind jumped back into action. It wanted to hook into planning a trip to Mexico. I started thinking about what it would cost, when we would do it, would we take the kids or not, the safety of the trip – and once again, I was not on the street in Palm Springs with my husband. Instead I was in my own world and hard to reach, even though he could hold my hand.

Thinking. Planning. Problem Solving. These things on their own are excellent tools that can help move life forward. When used in excess, they create a loop that transports you in space like a time traveler, keeping you from enjoying the moment and experiencing what it means to live YOUR life.

We all get stuck in patterned thinking. There are certain topics that the mind automatically gravitates towards, looking for the hook. Sometimes it does it to feel safe. Sometimes it does it to escape. Sometimes it does out of habit. But mostly, it does it because of our inability to sit with what is. Sitting with what is can be beautiful, scary, sad, exciting, boring. Sitting with what is allows us to mentally take a break and recharge. It revitalizes us at the core and rejuvenates the soul. We have become a society that is so connected and always on, planning, searching, comparing, moving, looking, that we are uncomfortable being.

It’s time to get back to the basics. Here are five things you can do to stop your loop and to be more present:

  1. Notice your loop and decide not to take the ride. It sounds easy, but it isn’t. When my loop starts, I have to ask myself what I’m avoiding. What feeling in the present am I uncomfortable with? What is my loop protecting/keeping me from? In the case of Palm Springs, it was keeping me from being vulnerable and seen by my husband.
  2. Stop at the stop sign. We all know when our loop is starting. There is a brief moment where we can decide to replace it with a new thought and check in with ourselves, or we can keep our foot on the gas and run the stop sign. For many of my clients, having a stop sign as a visual helps them to remember to stop and drop the thought.
  3. Don’t deprive your mind. Our minds like to think. That’s their job. When we feed the mind with new messages, we can interrupt our loop. Take stock of what you are filling your mind up with. If you never give it any new material, it won’t have anything different to pick up. You can try reading something new, listen to an inspirational or informative podcast, take a class, try a new skill, or focus on your surroundings to help you interrupt your looping pattern.
  4. Focus on where your feet are. Sometimes when I am in a loop, I have to look down to see where my feet are. If they aren’t physically in the situation that I am thinking about, then whatever is happening in my loop, isn’t happening in the moment. Reminding myself to be where my feet are brings me back to center.
  5. Meditate before you postulate. Mediation is a great tool to use to retrain the mind. Focusing on your breath can help calm your system and bring you back to the present. Meditation doesn’t have to take long to be effective. You can start with 60-seconds and do it anywhere, with your eyes open or closed, to free your mind and reset.

Being in the present moment can be intimidating. Talking about things that are in your heart and out of your loop can feel uncomfortable. But here’s the deal, the gifts of ease and serenity are sitting directly underneath the agitation and discomfort. I encourage you to explore living a more present life. With practice, it gets easier and the rewards are countless.

As for me and my trip, I was finally able to realize that the feeling I was avoiding by looping was being vulnerable and deeply connected to my husband. On the outside, I am a girl that likes to handle it on her own. I don’t need anyone. But underneath that, is the part that deeply wants to connect and be seen but is afraid to be let down, so I keep a wall up. As a coach, I challenge myself to do the things that I encourage my clients to do. So, as we walked the streets of Palm Springs, I took a moment, stopped at a stop sign and looked at my feet to remind me of where I was. And I am glad that I did. We had an incredible 36-hour getaway. And I didn’t miss it. I hope you don’t miss what’s waiting under your surface.

If you would like to talk about ways to be more present, to stop your loop, and to get under the surface, please schedule a 30-minute complimentary session with me.

Check out my video on looping below. Join my Shine on Purpose Facebook group.

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