Charlie is quite possibly one of the happiest creatures I have ever met. I think I’ve said it before, but his enthusiasm for life is contagious and has been an inspiration to try to experience the world like he does. My husband often comments that Charlie does not clutter his day with a lot of thought (although I would like him to think more before he jumps from a 7-8 foot cliff – yes he did this without getting hurt, and yes I about had a heart attack). This does not mean Charlie is not intelligent, but more so that he does not get wound up or concerned by the day’s events. Like most animals, he lives in the moment.
One of the things I have noticed during our weekly hikes is when he sees another hiker or potential doggie friend, he enjoys greeting them in the moment, but once they have passed, Charlie is no longer interested and continues exploring the path ahead. He uses all of his senses to scan his environment – perking up at a strange sound, listening intently, smelling his environment, noticing if something is wrong (or exciting to chase). But once Charlie has scanned the area and decides it is safe, he continues forward without cause for further concern. He does not replay the day’s events in his mind and does not appear to be concerned about tomorrow. Instead he savors the now and lives life fully.
Unlike Charlie, but like most humans, I do tend to clutter my day with a lot of thought. However, after watching Charlie, I started practicing and paying more attention to just being in the moment. At first, it was awkward and I was not sure what or how to go about getting his experience. But then I got it! The key for me is to suspend my thoughts and reach out with all six of my senses to absorb and appreciate my environment or circumstance. There are no expectations about the next moment which allows me to savor the present time and fully experience the world. Similar to Charlie, I figured out how to free myself of anticipation and attempts to control the outcome of whatever I am involved in that moment; accepting what it is and how it will turn out without judgment or criticism. I find this experience to be magical, creating a sense of freedom which allows the heart to expand, giving voice to desire and passion.
Living in the moment is a unique experience and seems to require less energy than brooding, fretting, or controlling. It is not difficult, but requires some patience and practice. By watching Charlie, I learned that it is okay to let go and not get wound up about life. Now when I notice the smallest hints of worry, drama, anxiety, or brooding, I remind myself to get quiet, suspend my thoughts, and experience the now. It is a conscious decision and requires awareness as well as the desire to try something new or different. After lots of experimenting and practice, I’m now skillful enough to instantly experience the now and lead with my heart (instead of my head/thoughts).
By living in the moment, letting go of expectations and control, it is easier to appreciate the world around me. It is an amazing sense of peace, calmness, awareness, and connection. I understand why Charlie seems so happy and exuberant, and my heart tells me to do more. What about you?