A well-researched method of dealing with stress and anxiety that I frequently use with patients is mindfulness. It’s a technique of living in the present moment, without clouding it with regrets from the past, or worries of the future – because, the current moment (the “now”) is the only thing we really have.
As a healthcare practitioner, I advise and teach, but on my own health journey, I have my own share of struggles, and my struggle with life’s stress is no different than yours.
One such struggle was fully integrating this concept of mindfulness, with the feeling that sometimes I’m not where I want to be in life. How can I live in the moment and truly be happy if I have a drive for success? Aren’t the two polar opposites? As a high achiever, my drive for success comes from not wanting to settle for mediocrity, and I don’t want to lose that. It’s what has propelled me to where I am today. So, if I am going to truly be happy with where I am today, how can I possibly propel myself forward?
After reading the book Wherever You Go, There You Are, by Dr. Jon Kabat-Zinn, an expert in mindfulness, I realized something. I was confusing “happiness” with the feeling of being “at-peace”. Mindfulness doesn’t require me to be ecstatic and joyful in every moment of my life – that would be inauthentic, and unrealistic. After all, life is so much more multidimensional than that. It requires me to simply accept the current moment (good and bad) as it is – just as I accept the people I love for who they are (good and bad). In a sense, mindfulness is the growth of unconditional love for the current moment in your life. I can still work to improve my situation, and achieve my goals, but concurrently, I am also living my life the way it unfolds – moment to moment.
There is a subtle, yet profound difference in living this way. With mindfulness, we are living and working towards change. In the other all too common situation, we are “un-living” until we achieve change. It’s an unnecessary and often unconscious self-imposed prison. And for what? When we are caught up and not experiencing the present moment, we have just lost the most valuable thing we have: the present moment. Why is it so valuable? Because out of the past, present, and future, it is the only thing that is real.
Dr. Rahim Kanji
Dr. Rahim Kanji is a Naturopathic Doctor practicing in Toronto, Canada. He has a passion for evidence-based natural medicine, specifically empowering his patients to make nutritional changes which create dramatic impacts to their health. For more information, visit his website at www.rahimkanjind.com.