Lately I’ve been struck by an idea that leverages the power of “restarting the clock” — beginning again. This concept is often used in meditation to bring one’s wandering attention back, but its application goes far beyond meditation — it’s a kind of superpower.
A conscious decision to begin again is, in essence, a forced return to the present moment.
If you find yourself lost in thought and can somehow become aware that you’re lost in thought, a decision to begin again instantly snaps you from your reverie and back into the present.
You can, with fresh eyes, decide to begin again, and immediately start noticing things, things like
- the pace and quality of your breath (without attempting to change or influence it)
- the sounds in your immediate environment (it’s often possible to detect 5 or 6 unique sounds going on simultaneously when you really listen)
- sensations going on in your body
- light and shadow and color
You can even notice emotions, both positive and negative, if they’re there. Things like anxiety, fear, overwhelm, or, more pleasantly, joy, reverence, and serenity. Noticing all these things, separately, or all at once, grounds us in the present moment. Reveries about the past, and thoughts about the future can’t live here simultaneously; they’ll return soon enough!
For brief periods, we return to the present, and remain free of past and future selves.
The best part is that this free state is accessible at all times (well, when you’re awake anyway). No matter what kind of situation you find yourself in, whatever mental landscape you find yourself in, this path to the present is there, just by remembering to begin again. And, everyday, we get literally hundreds of opportunities to practice this.
We just to have to decide to restart the clock, the cue to dropping into the present.