Friday, January 6, 2012

31 Writers, 31 Lessons-Lesson 6: Embrace the Present Moment

Besides patience, it's also so important to embrace the present moment, whatever it may hold for us. This is easier said than done. Maria Atwood is someone who is practicing this. I discovered Maria on Twitter and was so inspired by her daily statuses of positivity. Every single day, that's what she is putting out in the world. What you put out there is what returns to you. I've never seen a picture of Maria until now, as she has been anoymously posting these statuses of postivetly under the alias Positively Zen, so it's so nice to "see" her and hear her story. Please welcome Maria Atwood:

“Realize deeply that the present moment is all you ever have. Always say "yes" to the present moment. What could be more futile, more insane, than to create inner resistance to something that already is? What could be more insane than to oppose life itself, which is now and always now? Surrender to what is. Say "yes" to life. - and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.” -Eckhart Tolle

Let’s face it; life will always have its ups and downs, no matter what. What goes up must come down; you can’t have one without the other. It’s not too much of a challenge to feel happy and calm when things are going well, but what about when they’re not? How do you accept the present moment when it’s filled with challenges?

Last week over the course of 4 days the following happened: My car broke down in the middle of some busy holiday traffic. My husband’s hard drive on his laptop died and he lost a lot of his work. Then on a particularly cold night, we were relaxing with the heater on when all of a sudden we smelled smoke. The motor in our central heating unit had just conked out. Not the greatest week!

I’m not going to lie; those events were frustrating and for a moment I felt like I didn’t want to deal with any of it. However, I pulled my thoughts together and changed my focus. I thought, as frustrating as these things are, I don’t have to let them ruin my day. I had to change my perception of the situation. I chose to view the challenges as lessons which were providing me with another opportunity to work on being present and practice accepting what is.

As a result of our trying week, we rearranged plans, we needed to buy a new hard drive and thankfully, all I needed was a new battery. I have to say that I enjoyed walking to a local restaurant and having something to eat with my husband that night despite having to wait 45 minutes for the auto parts store to test our battery. The 4-mile walk to the store to pick up the new battery was good exercise and the company was enjoyable. We both made the best of what we had to work with at that moment.

Someone who implements embracing the present moment no matter what is my Grandmother. Her life changed dramatically when admitted to the hospital a year ago due to shortness of breath. A few hours after being admitted her heart stopped. When they brought her back she was unable to breathe on her own. Thanks to the use of a ventilator she’s able to breathe now.

My Grandmother went from being incredibly independent to spending 98% of her time in a hospital room - not an easy thing for anyone to deal with and accept. It would be easy for her to feel depressed, especially since she’s been there for a year, and at this time it’s unclear if she’ll ever be able to return home. What touches me is that she still exudes genuine joy. She always has a smile on her face and kind words to say to everyone. My Grandmother knows that she may never leave the hospital, but she still greets each new day with open arms, gratitude and a love of life.

"Once you stop clinging and let things be, you’ll be free, even of birth and death. You’ll transform everything... And you’ll be at peace wherever you are." - Bodhidharma

I’ve spent a lot of time in the past wishing that things were different, avoiding and worrying and not realizing that by doing those things, I was the one missing out. This moment, no matter how you choose to perceive it, is your life. Enjoy it and make the most of it!

Maria Atwood is passionate about positivity, embracing the present moment and the teachings of Buddhism. You can follow her on Twitter @PositivelyZen.


  1. A beautiful post, and all the best to the wonderful Grandmother!

    Katherine, you got an award here (not zen, I'm afraid):

  2. Angel,

    Thanks so much! I'll check it out soon!

    I can so relate to Maria's post. I had a day like hers recently where everything seemed to be crumbling. It's easy to embrace the present moment when everything is groovy, but so hard when it's not. Thanks for posting Maria!

  3. Thank you so much Angel011 :-) & thank you Katherine for the opportunity to be a part of 31 Writers, 31 Lessons.

  4. Just what I needed today! I'm in the process of moving and stuck in the packing process. I'm avoiding dealing with just doing it, but I love how simple it is to change your mind set in one moment! From this moment on I'm going to stop beating myself up for not getting the packing done sooner and embrace this opportunity to lovingly let go of old things as I organize to move into a beautiful new home!