By: Fran Bulloff, VTI President
The phrase “in the moment” is thrown around in many different contexts and elicits opposing reactions from me. I hear young people brag that they are acting “in the moment” to show they are spontaneous, but also to defend why they never remember to write or call old friends or family. They criticize others for being preoccupied with distractions that hinder enjoyment of the present. I have known both kinds of people. The “out of the moment” types are always obsessing about the children they wish they had, the plum jobs out of their reach, the next bigger and fancier house. They fail to appreciate the blessings in their present lives as they occupy their thoughts with frustrations about future aspirations. Others are hopelessly caught up in the past, finding it impossible to move forward with their lives. Those “out of the moment” people never seem to be happy because they find no satisfaction in the present. I am also troubled by the “in the moment” folks who are so caught up in their own momentary needs and sensations that they don’t worry or care about others or the future. Their chief concern is fear of missing out: Live for today! You only live once! Carpe Diem!
Both of these types of individuals are living with blinders on because they are so focused on themselves. There is another synonym for “in the moment” which I prefer: mindfulness. Mindfulness is a therapeutic technique extracted from Buddhism to take notice of present thoughts, feelings, and sensations without judgment. It is a mental state achieved by focusing one’s awareness on the present moment, while calmly acknowledging and accepting one’s feelings, thoughts, and bodily sensations. This idea of being fully focused on or mentally involved in what one is doing or experiencing is a core value of Validation. Naomi Feil has developed various techniques to center or ground oneself in order to achieve a Validating attitude, sharpen attention, and provide a non-judgmental partner to another person who is journeying through the end of life in the fog of dementia. A Validating caregiver can be “in the moment” with another person by mirroring behaviors, using a nurturing voice or gentle touch, or perhaps rephrasing the other’s words to enter that person’s emotional world with respect and empathy.
You can learn to center, simply within 3 or 4 minutes, by watching one of VTI’s YouTube series, How to Center.