15 APRIL 2022 WorldWide Drilling Resource® The Un-Comfort Zone II by Robert Evans Wilson, Jr. Kiss Future-Tripping and Negative Retrospection Good-bye Living in the present takes practice, but it can ease depression and anxiety. Deadlines looming, angry customers, bills stacking up, shrinking bank accounts, screaming children, school projects due, and now some idiot just cut you off in traffic! Lions, tigers, and bears . . . oh my! Overwhelm doesn’t just happen at this time of year (as in whenever you happen to be reading this); it can happen anytime. With today’s fast-paced and hectic daily schedules, a baseline of stress seems to be the new normal. The good news is there is a great way of dealing with it. Be in the Here and Now - It’s called mindfulness, or living in the present. It’s all about being actively engaged in the moment - where you are and what you are doing right now. Sounds easy enough until you realize much of your time is spent ruminating about the past (missed opportunities, failures, bad decisions, or good times you’ll never experience again), or worrying about the future (the possibility of illness, not meeting work goals, inflation, war, and so forth). According to the Mayo Clinic, “Mindfulness is the act of being intensely aware of what you're sensing and feeling at every moment - without interpretation or judgment.” The key part of that statement is to avoid interpretation or judgment. It is okay to feel your feelings; allow them to arise and then to pass without indulging or wallowing in them. Acknowledge a past loss makes you sad and the unknowns of the future make you nervous; the trick is not dwelling on it. It’s Impossible to Live in the Past or Future - Keep in mind, you cannot exist in the past or the future. The past has come and gone, it is static, and you cannot change it. The future is completely uncertain and will always contain endless possibilities. The only place you can exist is in the present - the here and now. For me, it took getting injured, being unable to walk, and having forced bed rest imposed on me for two months, to finally understand this concept. Nevertheless, it was still a gradual change. At first, because I couldn’t do anything, my anxiety got worse; so I started listening to guided meditation just to help me calm down enough to sleep. Later, I was able to do breathing exercises as necessary to refocus my thoughts. The concept of living in the present really crystallized for me when I came across these sage words by Lao Tzu: “If you are depressed you are living in the past. If you are anxious you are living in the future. If you are at peace you are living in the present.” While I had heard similar things before, such as the Serenity Prayer, Tzu’s words really resonated with me. Here’s How to Bring Mindfulness into Your Day - I find that beginning my day with just a few minutes of stretching (or yoga), then a few minutes of meditation (or breathing exercises) really helps me get a good start for the day. I like to begin and end my meditation with these words: “I release the past and the future. I embrace the present.” I find clearing my mind and focusing on my breathing allows thoughts of clarity and creativity to enter. It also energizes me for the day. If the energy wanes, I can do a five-minute refresher by closing my eyes and doing my mind-clearing and breathing exercises. Whenever you find yourself slipping out of the present, and into the past or future, refocus your thoughts by concentrating on what must (or should) be done in the next hour. If you can’t commit to an hour, select an amount of time comfortable to you, then build up until you can live your entire day mindfully in the present. Planning or Preparing for the Future is Practicing Mindfulness - Living in the present doesn’t mean you can’t plan or prepare for the future. If you must think about the past or future, do it in small, time-limited doses. Use reliving the past to remind yourself of a past success (such as journaling accomplishments or reviewing them to bolster your confidence) or to recall how you achieved it. You can think about the past to figure out what went wrong to fix it - as long as you do it without spending time in self-judgment. Accept the past, what you have learned from it, and move on with today. DaleCarnegie, in his book How to Stop Worrying and Start Living, suggested learning how to live in day-tight compartments by diverting your pensive energy into practical projects, and focusing on doing our best one day at a time - Wilson continued on page 46.