The (imperfect) Present Moment is a great place to be!
I was chatting the other day with a woman who had done some coaching with me last year. She looked bright and happy as she told me that people in her life have been commenting that she looks great. Yes, she had lost some weight but what they were noticing was her attitude – she was really happy just being in her life. She was living in the present moment as she was continuing to adjust her attitudes and habits.
She reminded me of an important concept:
Constant Gentle Realignment (CGR). This is the process of continually adjusting thinking patterns, choices and ultimately behaviours in order to stay on a desired course.
It’s like housework!
Dusting the furniture is not a one-and-done kind of job. We dusted last weekend – but now there’s dust everywhere. We have to start again, now. In this moment where we see the dust.
It is inevitably a struggle to stay on track with healthy habits. In fact it is surprising how easily we go off track! We know that committing to a meditation habit is good for us; we know how important it is to drink less alcohol, exercise more and manage our anger. WE KNOW WHAT WE WANT TO DO – but we keep veering off course!
This is so normal!
CGR recognizes that changing behaviour is a process over time. It is never a ‘one-and-done’ single event.
Our health (and our happiness) doesn’t arrive and stay with a one-and-done strategy - it requires repeating the never-ending (often) tedious tasks of maintenance and adjustment. And this starts with accepting that constant gentle realignment is a thing!
Self-Compassion is a superpower!
Underlying the ability to patiently and kindly realign over and over again is the practice of self-compassion. Compassion is what gives us a hand up when we’ve fallen short and it powers the motivation to start again. It’s what lets us start over or do ‘it’ again without irritation or frustration.
Getting mad at the dust on the coffee table doesn’t make sense, does it?
Neither does getting mad at missing a meditation, eating the potato chips or forgetting to pause before blowing up…but we’ve all done this! Self-compassion allows us to (forgive ourselves, if necessary) and try again.
Realignment is what ultimately moves us away from the mind habits that derail every single one of us as we’re learning. It’s what moves us toward our desired outcomes. Limiting beliefs, emotional roller-coasters and negative self talk separate us from our (good) intentions and leave us feeling frustrated, hopeless and sometimes, sick.
CGR is what helps us slowly get unstuck from these thinking ruts and unhelpful mind habits.
Don't get mad at the dishes!
Constant gentle realignment is like housework or grocery shopping: mundane but necessary. Never done and yet essential to a well-run life.
Struggling to stay on track with healthy behaviours is the normal way of things – so take a break from the critical appraisal of how little has changed!
Being at Ease in the Imperfect Present Moment
Establishing useful habits in life takes time, so take the time! It’s okay to start again, or do it all over. Self-compassion and making constant gentle realignments are the skills that hold the key to living at ease in the imperfect present moment.