Last week I was with a friend from University and she was struggling to remember a name. I realised I regularly experience this problem. Yes, I know, a senior moment, we all have them! But they are happening more regularly, so I have given this some thought.
Personally, I do not think it is the start of dementia, for me, it is an increasing problem with concentrating on the present. My mind is so often darting to worrying about the future or ruminating on the past, that I do not stop long enough in the present to consolidate the memories! I also feel so bombarded by life, especially social media and the internet, that I struggle to remember all the facts that I try to cram in on any one day!
How many of you have driven home and as you park in the garage you realise you can’t remember which route you took? Was your mind somewhere else? Was it dwelling in the past, or was it frantically scrambling to make plans for the future? It certainly can’t have been in the present or you would remember every detail of driving home.
When I am introduced to new people, I am usually wondering where they fit in, or thinking about how to make conversation, and oops… I have forgotten their name a few minutes later when I need it! Does this happen to you?
So, what happened to the Present? Most days we grab for the phone the moment we wake and lay it on the bedside table last thing at night. Whatever happened to sitting and waiting for an appointment? Nowadays it is an opportunity to check WhatsApp/Facebook/email, or if those are quiet, to clean your inbox.
There has to be a consequence to all this rushing and urgent attention to social media. Of course, there is, it is a whole new category of stress-related disorders that the medical fraternity is frantically researching. For those of us who are older, perhaps it is the cause of “failing” memory.
Have we become lost in all this frantic activity? Are we permanently digging around in the past or planning furiously for the future – to such an extent that we forget to look up, look around and realise how beautiful the PRESENT is? The present is only here for an instant, so if we don’t notice it, it is lost forever.
A valuable exercise to try and bring yourself to live in the present is to take a pause after each activity before you move on to the next one. In that way, you cut the first activity off cleanly and do not take its worries into the next. It is a simple pause, a few seconds or minutes, where you come to rest and finish the activity you have been doing and assign it to the past. Now it will not contaminate the new activity and you will be freed up to experience the new activity in the present.
Appreciating the present, that is at the heart of mindfulness which is currently a trendy topic. It is the relevance to our current lifestyle that has made mindfulness so popular – is it a last-ditch stand to save us from ourselves by coming back to appreciate the present! It is time to quit spending most of our time either in the past or the future and spend more in the present.