I've thought a lot about this subject since my sister brought it to my attention a few years ago. She had read a book--never can remember what she said the book was called and I've asked her to remind me so many times that now I'm embarrassed to ask again--in which they addressed our inability to live in our present moment to the fullest. The books aim was to teach you how to handle your problems better and to reduce stress in your life, and it did so by teaching you or encouraging you to live in the moment.
Heather and I discussed how even while she and I were having that first conversation I was cleaning the house, folding laundry, checking my email, etc. I didn't sit and listen and enjoy the conversation.
When people (read: women) make love to their partners, 90% of the time they are planning their day, making a grocery list, or berating themselves for things they forgot to get done that day. No wonder so many women can't obtain full satisfaction--they're too distracted thinking to allow their bodies the full enjoyment they deserve.
I notice this problem myself particularly when my husband or children are talking to me. After having this discussion with Heather, I realized that very often when my family is speaking with me, I am not wholly there. I am only partially listening, perhaps giving the greater portion of my attention to the television, or to the article I am reading, or the email.
So I have been making an effort over the last few years to live in the moment more consistently. It is very, very difficult. I'd be very curious to hear how you have done if you have also been making this effort, or to hear how you do if you care to take up my challenge: Practice living in the moment, start today. See how it changes you.
If someone is speaking to you, put down your book, mute the TV. Make eye contact. Absorb what they are saying to you and think about it.
When you make love, be there. Experience the moment. Don't think about it--there is nothing to think, but there is everything to feel if you are wholly present in the moment.
When your children come bounding in the door, interrupting your very-important-something, look them in the eye and be there for them. They will not be interrupting you for long--soon enough you'll be wondering how in the world to get them to talk to you! My own personal theory is that if I am willing to listen to them now, they will probably be more likely to listen to me then. At least, it's a bet I'm willing to make.
I bring this up because I'd been slacking off for a while so I'm recommitting myself to the live-in-the-moment philosophy.
I love this quote from Buddhist philosophy:
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, worry about the future, or anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.”
It's amazing how easy it is to multitask--in fact, it feels downright sinful to slow down and deny the need for speed. But the moments are much more likely to become memories, or healing, or inspiring, or even sacred. Who knows what will we will hear, or what we can discover, if we are here, if we are listening.