Being In the Moment

What does ‘being in the moment’ mean to me as a person living with multiple sclerosis. You might say I’m in the twilight of my life, cognizant of the ups and downs but also enjoying so much of what is beautiful. Looking back, I am conscious of how in times past I’ve been affected by and influenced by life’s pressures, tensions, and burdens. And then I’m reminded of the stress, pain, and the trauma of several surgeries; numerous health issues; and most of all the chronic symptoms and disabilities of MS for more than thirty years. I’ve discovered that every day we encounter cracks and fissures along the path of life; and as I’ve traveled that road, I have tripped too many times. So, what did I learn from yesterday’s tough struggles? How long did it take me to accept the unacceptable and move forward? How long before I focused on what is instead of what isn’t? How long before awareness came; – because it definitely took a while! When it came – wow! What an eye opener!

Babies and toddlers are always in the moment and children are almost always in the moment. Their delight in everything they do is apparent. They cry and whine when in distress, and as soon as their problem is resolved they laugh and move on. For those of us who have pets, we know that they are always in the moment. Your dog will greet you affectionately and with abandon even if you’ve just left the house for half an hour. And every moment of the day your cat lets you know that he owns you.

One day about eight years ago I was scheduled to present a program of Mindfulness Meditation at a center for Parkinson’s patients. I had gotten to the building early, and as I walked in noticed that the gym floor was somewhat slippery. With my cane tapping noisily along the floor, I ambled unsteadily and very slowly toward a table and chair set up for me. While waiting for everyone to seat themselves a seven year old child came up to me and said: “you know; you walk funny”. She was a precocious and engaging little girl who surprised me. I thought to myself; that years before during the throws of my dealing with my MS disabilities, I would have been taken aback; annoyed and irritated at anyone making that declaration. But, I had changed because I now had the benefit of knowing what it means’ to be in the moment’. So, with a wink and a nod I quickly said: “Well, that’s because I’m a tortoise and tortoises walk very slowly and deliberately”. Without a moment’s hesitation she said: “I am learning all about amphibians in school, and tortoises live to be 300 years old, so you are very lucky”. The joy of that moment has never left me.

We leave our childhood days moving into teen and adult years, and at some point start to hold onto the past; suffering every disappointment, failure or regret over and over again. So I looked back; I wondered – when had I first become aware of what it meant ‘to be in the moment’? And it came to me. At 25 years of age I was married, the mother of a two year old, and six months pregnant. Recently our family had adopted a rescue dog; a boxer named George. His original family had given him up because he chewed everything in sight. George was totally goofy and fun loving; and so good natured he allowed my two year old daughter to poke and prod every part of his body. She could sit on him, ride him or dress him up in her doll’s clothing. He never ever growled or showed any aggressive behavior. Decidedly, he was the most gentle and loving pet anyone could have; never displaying any anger or protective or defensive instincts at any time. One night he and I went for our evening walk. I came upon three young ‘toughs’ (obviously inebriated) making lewd, vulgar and offensive remarks directed at me. I was very nervous and decided to cross the street, turn around and head for home; but noticed that they started to follow me. Overcome by fear, I anxiously placed my hand on my belly and my heart was pounding. But, before I completely fell apart, I heard this threatening snarl; a menacing guttural growl rumbling from the pit of my dog’s stomach. It was frightening. His undershot jaw displayed gnashing teeth as his entire body exploded with rage and fury. I thought to myself ‘who is this dog’? Where did he come from because I don’t know him? With confidence I didn’t really have; with assertiveness I didn’t really feel; I said: ‘I’m controlling him on lead. Move away from me or I will turn him loose and you will regret it’. Quickly I turned and headed for home; no one was following. We got back to the apartment where I locked the door and then collapsed. I gazed lovingly at George as he nuzzled into my neck and lap, kissing my face. And once again he was my lovable goofy pal; the dog I had always known. But there was more; for that day I had discovered that he was the soulful being who first taught me what it means ‘to be in the moment’.

While it’s not always easy, I practice the developed skills of Mindfulness Meditation daily; and have further uncovered the gift of ‘being in the moment’. I fully realize that I can make it my intention to focus on what I can do, as opposed to what I can’t do. This relaxed meditative approach permits me to release my angst, my misery, and my distress; letting go of the negative while concentrating on the positive. I am more mindful and aware of everyone and everything that touches my life. More important, I’ve learned a valuable lesson; that ‘yesterday in history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a present; a gift to be appreciated’. It’s all about – ‘being in the moment’.

This article represents the opinions, thoughts, and experiences of the author; none of this content has been paid for by any advertiser. The MultipleSclerosis.net team does not recommend or endorse any products or treatments discussed herein. Learn more about how we maintain editorial integrity here.

Comments

View Comments (8)
  • NLG30
    1 year ago

    Being in the moment and living in the moment… means breaking my day into segments that work for me.. Realizing I must slow down and be grateful for what I can still do. Life is so different now. The progression into SPMS has set this into motion as a survival skill and has calmed my mind so I can manage each day….step by step….moment by moment. ..the best I am able.

  • RuthGeller author
    1 year ago

    Thanks for reaching out to me. What you shared resonates with me. I fully understand because I too have to slow down and pace myself, separating my day into segments. And, I too am grateful for what I can still do. Being in the moment makes all the difference for me. It improves my ability to focus and concentrate so I can stay balanced and centered; allowing me to be the best I can be within the parameters of all my limitations. Sincerely Ruth

  • potter
    1 year ago

    Great story next time my husband wants me to speed up I am going to tell him I am a tortoise and going to live 300 years. Dogs are wonderful creatures, my dog cornered a cable man who climbed over our fence, he was only 6 weeks old. Potter

  • RuthGeller author
    1 year ago

    Thanks Potter for your thoughtful reply. You and I are definitely in cinque. Your appreciation for my love of dogs and the gentle humor I dispatched about my disability resonated. Be in the moment whenever you can, knowing that I will be thinking of you. Best Regards – Ruth .

  • Christina Hegarty PT, DPT moderator
    1 year ago

    Hi RuthGeller,
    What a beautiful story! Thank you so much for taking the time to share with us here! What a wonderful message for anyone to be reminded of: be in the moment. Too often, I personally get caught up in so many “what if” questions and forget to enjoy the present moment for the gift that it is. I love your story of your loving and protective dog teaching you just how to be in the moment 🙂
    Thank you again for sharing with us! We’re glad you’re a part of our community!
    Best,
    Christina, MultipleSclerosis.net Team

  • RuthGeller author
    1 year ago

    Thanks Christina for your thoughtful comments. Being a part of this community is very special. I’m happy to be able to share and I’m truly grateful for everything I’ve learned from so many. Let’s continue to communicate and share, reminding each other to ‘be in the moment’. Best Regards – Ruth

  • RuthGeller author
    10 months ago

    Hi Janice – So nice to hear from you. Having had MS for more than 32 years, I too am aware of what life’s activities were as a wife, mother and professional woman; and someone who once had great physical verve. MS has taught me life’s journey is unpredictable with no guarantees. I’ve learned to accept that my abilities are curtailed. So, I try to be in the moment; to focus on what I can do – not on what I can’t do. I take great satisfaction in being in the moment; I do the best I can do – within the parameters of my limitations. Physically I have many limitations – but in my head I make it my business to be the best I can be at whatever I can undertake. I define myself by what I do accomplish, and I’m sometimes amazed by what I can do. Anyone who has had the treasured joy of owning a dog, knows why you would be involved with dogs. Being in the moment says “yesterday is history; tomorrow is a mystery, but today (this moment) is a present; a gift to be appreciated”. There is no other being that will love you as unconditionally as your dog. And – what a gift that is. There is a significant lack of awareness by many people about what it means to have MS. There is also a significant lack of awareness by most people about other people and also dogs. I think about it this way. I will be the best I can be (within the parameters of my physical handicaps) and I’ve learned that’s ‘a lot’. When I’m the best I can be for myself, then I’m the best I can be for everyone and everything that touches my life.

  • Janice
    10 months ago

    Living in the moment is something I am trying to let myself accomplish. Right now to let go of what I thought my present life would be but isn’t makes my depression worse. I have to say that only dogs have kept me going my whole life when times are difficult. I used to be very active, raised three kids and multi-tasking was never a problem. Now I can do through a day and when it is over wonder what did I do. It is so frustrating to try and do what used to be easy and now it takes a long time to figure out what you are doing and then give up. When my kids say what are you doing, why are you doing that and you should go do something fun I just want to disappear. When they have the nerve to say you really don’t need dogs it hurts to think that they really don’t know me or understand what would help.

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