We hear a lot about being in the present moment and how important that is but the fact of the matter is it’s just so darn hard to stick with one measly minute when it is so much more efficient to manage many, many more — especially when the downside of packing them in is so easy to ignore. After all, the crash and burn is often gradual and disconnected from the frenzy. But eventually there is a fee:
A quick downside shortlist
- Sense of never getting to the end of the list that life has been reduced to
- Disconnection with what we are doing, who we are with, what is really happening, where the beauty and joy are
- Dislocation from ourselves
- Sense of missing our lives, only skating over the surface
- At random points, a sense of pointlessness
Coming back to life
One way or another, getting back inside our lives boils down to coming back to what is physically happening right now. A tried and true method for reigning ourselves back in from wherever we have mentally gone off to is just to feel our feet on the ground and the breath in our body.
Breaking news: real life application
As it turns out, I’ve had an in-the-moment opportunity to put my money where my mouth is in this wellness tip because I am being real-time challenged to keep my feet on the ground while being sent out of my mind with a UTI (that’s a urinary tract infection for all those who have no real and present experience with this horror show). It cropped up last night just an hour after all the urgent care clinics heartlessly closed their doors. I was looking at a very long night of pacing, alternating with peeing every 3 seconds. This is no ordinary pee. This is a urethra-spasming experience which you just have to have for yourself to get the agony of. Most people may not even be able to isolate the sensation of a urethra, like a liver or some other body part that just does its thing. But a urethra caught in the clutches of a UTI just doesn’t stop clutching. It’s like a charlie horse in a tiny, concentrated area. Though the pee has been peed, the urethra has not released and this just goes on and on for a good 10 seconds while your eyes spontaneously water and spill over.
When those oh-so-recognizable signals of first urgency then a urethral clutch twinge surfaced last night, I knew exactly what was ahead of me for the next 12 hours. I would cover about 20 thousand steps pacing in a circle 3 feet away from the bathroom door while reading the same sentence in a book. Again, I would do this for 12 hours. I would break down and bawl at points when my mind wasn’t racing about what of the next work day could be salvaged and how long it would take the antibiotics to kick in and what if I have to beg for antibiotics in this age of antibiotic crackdown and how that would go, whether I would actually throw myself to the ground and lock onto any thing I could get my arms around so they couldn’t throw me out and just how long I’d have to do this until I wore them down sufficiently to get over to that keyboard to send an order of mercy on its way to the pharmacy.
But, as it turned out, I took a tranquilizer and an ibuprofen for good measure and went to bed and then amazed myself that I only got up once an hour to pee — and a real amount, not just the classic UTI dribble. But when my alarm went off, the shit show happened as soon as my mind got involved. Now that I was out from under the soft focus of the tranquilizer, I had laser focus on my urethra. How was it feeling now? Was that a twinge? An urge? And at the mere suggestion the urge came in full force and I was racing racing racing to the bathroom.
It only took a time or two of that to fully get the UTI fired up and going, no question about it now, which struck me as odd because how did that logically reconcile with the one-hour paced pees throughout the night? I suspected this as the work of my mind immediately and began employing my latest mind management technique, this single technique being a part of a larger visual model I had recognized just yesterday as needing only one more tweak to be really effective. It was missing something, something really important I hadn’t been able to quite see to bring it all together. I had been searching for and putting together this model for no less than 11 years — the 11 years since my falling apart in 2008. So this is my life’s work and it was almost ready to rollout once I got this last piece. This UTI had arrived to show me.
This is always how it happens in this visual model construction work. I think I’ve got it and then a big challenge comes my way which my current model isn’t quite able to cover, forcing me to device some new twist, introduce some new element designed specific to the place the current model let me know. In that way, all of my traumas have been a gift.
This UTI was going right for my mind management model’s weak spot. My mind was racing as I frantically attempted to call up my mind management technique to get me out of this panic that was building. Part of the problem was I was still attempting to go about my morning line-up of activities which most immediately involved breakfast and composing the little Facebook intro for this very blog I’m adding to right now, all complicated by how hard it is to think and eat while waiting for the next siege. I considered eating my bagel while sitting on the toilet while composing the Facebook intro in my mind, all the while getting more and more concerned about how my technique was seriously failing me. Then it occurred to me that perhaps being in the god-awful present moment — the very topic of today’s post — was my answer. Either that or what the fuck is this stuff I’m pedaling truly worth?
Well, I managed to wrestle myself down in the present moment where I also located the last piece of the technique I have been searching for so I’m here to report it’s worth a lot because it’s been 1 hour and 33 minutes since I’ve peed. My urethra is nicely content sitting here in my red chair where I just ate my bagel. I am fully grounded. I’m breathing. And my mind management model is complete so the timing of this UTI is nothing short of beautiful. I’ve never had a beautiful UTI before or one for which I’ve been so grateful.
If the present moment — even a really unpleasant one — is the antidote for a UTI, I don’t know what more I could possibly, therefore, say to recommend the benefit of being right here on the ground with whatever is actually happening because whatever is causing the distress is so much worse to experience while also being carried off by the wild horses of the mind. And it was only when I managed to come back to the present moment by stopping and breathing that I was able to find what I had been searching for in my model, which is the subject of the next regular installment of my memoir.
In the meantime, since our body’s physical location and sensation is the only absolute we can count on in real time and is such an excellent thing to anchor on, the guided breathing recording below will make it easier. It’s not easy to slow down to the speed of real time, so being guided helps a lot and, ironically, actually doesn’t take much time at all. To see what a couple of minutes of breathing and getting grounded can do, click on the arrow below.
This is a tip I developed for the employee wellness program I run in my professional life.