Present-Moment Awareness: A Better Way to Stay in Control
Feeling in control is a critical issue in everyone’s life. Most people are uncomfortable being out of control—a state that produces anxiety, uncertainty, confusion, panic, and loss of self-confidence, depending on how severe the loss of control is. Let’s see what a natural way of being in control looks like.
Control Starts at the Cellular Level
If you live entirely in the present, you are also in control. This isn’t a connection that seems obvious. But the best example is right in front of you. If you look at your body, each cell exists in a state of natural dynamic balance at every moment. A cell can’t afford to lose control. The multiple functions of a cell’s existence are handled simultaneously, and when the situation calls for a change, the cell responds flexibly. The cell’s multiple functions are reflected in activities familiar in your life: eating, drinking, breathing, reproducing itself, healing, renewing, and resting. But those are just broad outlines. A cell’s actual activities span a vast chemical array of proteins and enzymes managed with exquisite sensitivity by the cell’s DNA.
What does this have to do with you feeling in control? One connection is obvious: your body must be functioning well in order for you to feel that you are in a state of well-being. You can’t be in control without a good night’s sleep, because poor sleep leads to hormonal imbalances and the loss of motor control, among other things. You need a steady flow of energy from regular eating habits and a whole-foods diet. There cannot be constant stress, which steadily erodes the body’s ability to rebalance itself after the last stress response has occurred. Chronic low-grade stress is a major hidden health hazard in modern life.
Yet the issue of control contains a central mystery, because a cell’s ability to balance multiple functions simultaneously has never been adequately explained. It constitutes what could be called a field phenomenon; that is, all the disparate parts are regulated by a single controller that is holistic, the way the Earth’s magnetic field influences every magnet anywhere on the planet. But in the case of cells, no physical field explains how multiple functions can be controlled, as if by an invisible intelligence. Luckily for the cell, it has no choice but to trust in the field effect that keeps it running in perfect balance.
You are also embedded in the field of infinite intelligence that we call consciousness, but unlike a cell, you can lose contact with the field. To be in control requires tuning in to the level of consciousness that isn’t perturbed by external forces. This is actually a natural steady state, but in modern life, with its stress, distractions, and fast pace, remaining steady and centered requires consciously being mindful.
Mindful of what? Mindful that you have been thrown out of the present moment. When you are present, you are in control. When you aren’t present, you have lost control. Everything happens inside. It’s not that you are immune to external forces, only that when you notice that you aren’t present, you get back there.
Meditation, if practiced over a period of time, makes it much easier to be mindful and also to return to present-moment awareness. Yet you can also do a quick remedy by finding a quiet place to be alone, close your eyes, take some deep breaths, and find your center again. Doing this several times a day is a good routine, because it alerts you in a mindful way to what it feels like to be steady and present.
If you are present, here and now, you are in control. The ego makes a mistake by always trying to get its own way, putting up resistance, or being right. Countless people think of those things as being in control. In reality, nothing throws you out of yourself like demanding to get what you want, resisting other people, and always having to be right.
How to Stay in Control
To translate this into daily life, all you have to do is to imitate what every cell does:
- Trust in your existence.
- See yourself as multi-dimensional, simultaneously merging body, mind, and spirit.
- Favor cooperation over competition.
- Take a holistic rather than a fragmented approach.
- Attend to any need that arises as soon as it appears.
- Accept other people as your equal, treating them with respect and dignity.
- Take healing seriously, meaning physical, mental, and spiritual healing all together.
- Be as self-aware as possible.
- Realize that the present moment is the only time that’s fully real.
- See yourself as constantly growing and evolving, and live according to this vision.
Quite a long laundry list, you might say. But it boils down to one thing only: Live with present-moment awareness. That’s the ultimate secret that no amount of self-control exerted by the ego can achieve. By redefining what it means to be in control, you can achieve something invaluable for your personal success and happiness.
Take your happiness into your own hands in each and every present moment with Making Every Moment Matter, Oprah and Deepak’s free online meditation program starting October 30. Register for free.