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[mk_blockquote style=”quote-style” font_family=”none” text_size=”16″ align=”left”]“Live in the moment: Concentrate on the present with little or no concern for the future.” –[/mk_blockquote]

frisbee on the beachI’m at the beach with six young men who just graduated from high school with my son. I’ve been smiling a lot as I watch them spend this vacation together. Their approach to their days is wonderfully simple. I’ve yet to sense even the vaguest of plans. They eat when they’re hungry. They sleep when they’re tired. They go to the beach when it’s sunny. They play video games when it’s raining. They swim when they’re hot. They read when they want to. They are throwing or catching a Frisbee almost constantly. They laugh a lot. They play with an abandon that amazes me.

I feel like I have front row seats for a demonstration of “how to live in the moment.”

“Live in the moment” is a phrase that gets tossed around a great deal these days. Watching these boys embrace their vacation with open arms is a powerful illustration of the ease, the joy and the graceful pace of life that result when you pour all of yourself into whatever you’re doing. Taking life as it comes fosters a willingness to go with the flow. Even with six ideas of what to do or where to go, there has been little or no friction. Their decisions and choices are happening as naturally as their play.

“Live in the moment” is good advice, albeit somewhat hard to pull off at times. For most of us, it takes some planning or foresight to create space in our days to play or to rest or to engage in activity other than our work. For instance, it takes some foresight for there to be healthy food in the fridge and clean clothes in the closet. It takes some planning to make sure the bills get paid and household chores get done. It takes some concern for the future to insure that your three kids are packed and the car is loaded in order to head out on vacation where you’re highest hope is to live in the moment – with little or no concern for the future.

But these boys have also shown me that it is possible to engage fully in the act of planning. They’ve embraced even the logistics of their trip with abandon. Pooling their money into a “kitty” to fund their fun for the week was done with huge smiles. They went charging off to the grocery store with so much enthusiasm that you’d have thought they were going to a water park. In other words, they have proven that it is possible to live in the moment even as you’re preparing for a future moment.

This is something I played with on my yoga mat a little bit this week. It’s been clear to me for years that “living in the moment” is a skill (at least for me) that requires practice. Staying in the moment on my yoga mat – breath by breath, posture by posture – has been equally challenging and transformative for me. Yet, my instincts to organize, to plan and to peek ahead so that I’m prepared for what’s coming are powerful. Until this week, I hadn’t considered that I could also practice being in the moment even as life requires me to plan ahead.

In order to open fully to the deep backbends that I’m currently working on, I have developed a little series of preparatory postures. This week, as I moved through these postures, rather than letting my mind slip ahead to the pending backbends for which I was preparing, I chose instead to focus with all of my awareness on each prep along the way. “How do my hip flexors feel?” “Huh – I never noticed that my upper back comes into play in this lunge.” “Oh my goodness, my underarms are tight!” Giving my all to each of these postures not only taught me even more about my body, but I enjoyed them a whole lot more. I even found myself savoring one that I typically cruise through on autopilot.

While it certainly could be a result of the warm, humid air at the beach, I’m going to attribute my loose and open backbends this week to the extra time and attention that I lavished on my “preps.” By living in the moment as I prepared myself for the future, my practice was richer and deeper. While I don’t think I’ll ever move into backbends with the joyful abandon with which my son and his friends managed to grocery shop, witnessing them “living in the moment” changed me – on the mat, certainly, and off the mat, hopefully.

I hope they inspire you, too.