WRPA top banner
Western Reserve Psychological Associates, Inc.Empowering change for over 40 years
> return to archived articles >

Archived Article

Living in The Moment

Psychologists and other mental health professionals extol the virtues of Living in the Moment, the Now, the Present. Unfortunately, as we speed through life doing our work, keeping our home, helping our friends and caring for our families, we may be mystified by what that means.

We can think of time as a continuum; a line with the Past at one end and the Future at the other end. In the middle is Now, the present. The more time we spend in the moment or the Now, the more we experience life and the flow of living.


Whenever we stay in the past, we ruminate over if onlies, remorse and guilts. For example, repeatedly reviewing how it would have gone if we had only told them off, keeps us stuck in a dead zone because the past cannot be changed.

Whenever we stray to the future, we obsess about how it will be, what could happen and fears about what could develop. We are powerless over the future so planning how it will go in minute detail is not a good use of time. We can plan and even schedule, for example, a trip to Brazil on July 15th, 2004. However, if terrorism erupts in Brazil, please cancel and make a new plan.

You will notice the more you spin your mental wheels in the past or in the future, the less you experience your own present! Try staying in the moment, in the Now. Here are some exercises to try if you are serious about living more fully.

  1. Look at things (people or places) and notice how it is as opposed to how you want it to be. What are the characteristics you notice and how do you feel noticing those characteristics?

    • Have you ever looked at or into the eyes of your partner, friend, mother or child?
    • Have you ever been surprised when you finally saw the tree in your backyard or the lilacs blooming in Spring?
  2. Pay attention to your body.

    • Stretch before you move or exercise. What does it feel like to stretch?
    • At work, walk between appointments, tasks or on your break. Watch someone walking with a cane or walker. Can you tell how amazing it is to just walk?

This morning as I left for work, the sky was blue, the clouds fluffy white and there were children on bikes down the street. As I carefully backed up the drive, I heard the children yell The Bookmobile! and Mama, the bookmobile is here! When was the last time you were so fired up about a library? Children are spontaneously in the present, but without executive intellectual oversight. Do what children do: taste, smell, hear, see, move, play and work right now this minute.

Reality is lived right now, one moment at a time. Past can and does inform and shape the present. Future is always out there, but isn't here yet. Only now is lived in real time.

Barbara A. Buchanan, Ph.D.
Staff Psychologist

> return to archived articles >