Counselor's Corner: Slowing down and living in the present moment

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This pandemic reinforces the importance of slowing down and living in the present moment. Many people have COVID-19. Now almost everyone knows someone who has COVID-19. I realize now more than ever how short life is. To anticipate what will happen next and worry about it only creates more tension. Life is to be lived in the NOW. When I focus only on this present moment, I find myself slowing down and I can notice beauty and goodness all around me.

Dining inside at a restaurant, which I love to do, has not happened since March. But we get carry-outs from many different restaurants. So, restaurants still get our patronage. But my wife and I certainly miss dining out with friends and family. One day seems very much like the previous day. Thank God for Zoom because I can still continue my work and see people and have gatherings on Zoom.

This whole pandemic has forced me to slow down and live in the present moment. I realize that all I have is this present moment of life in which to find meaning and experience peace. I think the combination of being older and living in a pandemic challenges me on what life is all about. There is no need to rush to the next moment. Life is meant to be lived in the here and now. When I focus only on what I am doing and seeing at this moment, my whole system begins to slow down. It is like slowing down causes me to experience something profound in whomever I am with and whatever I see. There is a presence of God in everyone and in everything. It is amazing what happens when I slow down and focus on this present moment. Every concern about the next moment causes tension. But tension departs when I simply stay in this moment. And when I am with someone and simply pay close attention to them, I slow down again and discover a wisdom and inner peace. Everything in life and everyone in life becomes a gift to experience life in a deeper manner.

It is important for me to give up analyzing people, places and things and to simply experience people, places and things in this present moment. I have always been impressed by people who notice in detail what is around them. People who are focused on the present moment seem to have a wisdom that is amazing. They notice so much and seem so energized by simple things. When I am focused on what someone else is saying to me, I learn so much about life. I also learn so much when I am focused on what is around me in this present moment.

Each moment, when experienced well, will cause me to slow down. This slowing down helps me to become fully alive. I am convinced that there is a divine presence in everything and everyone that goes beyond all religion. Whatever faith or religion a person might believe, it is to help a person slow down and experience God. I have always loved the quote by Elizabeth Barret Browning: “Earth’s filled with heaven and every common bush afire with God. But only he who sees, takes off his shoes, the rest sit round and pluck blackberries.” This quote reminds me of the importance of experiencing what is really in this present moment: A divine presence.

It is easy to worry about what might happen next. But when I refuse to invest in the next moment and simply focus on this present moment, my whole physical, emotional and spiritual system seems to slow down and something peaceful begins to fill me. It is like in this present moment I am being filled with something bigger than myself. Every time I focus on what is around me or who is with me, I slow down.

It is insightful to realize how easy it is to live in worrying about the next moment and becoming worried and preoccupied over what I have no control over. To immerse myself in the past moment or in the next moment stifles my emotional and spiritual growth. Peaceful and calm energy is found in the experience of this moment. It also helps me to think clearly and experience life in a profound manner.

Life is quite simple. Live in the present moment. It is where I will experience God and where I will learn how to be loving and compassionate toward everyone.

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Fred Cavaiani is a licensed marriage counselor and psychologist with a private practice in Troy. He is the founder of Marriage Growth Center, a consultant for the Detroit Medical Center, and conducts numerous programs for groups throughout Southeast Michigan. His column in the Legal News runs every other Tuesday. He can be reached at 248-362-3340. His e-mail address is: Fredcavi@yahoo.com and his website is fredthecounselor.com.



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