‘Living in the moment’ might better be described as ‘being in a state of appreciation.’ That is what creates the reverence. Yet, when I hear from mental health professionals, it is generally due to compassion fatigue or burnout. (If it’s not that, they’ll often have a particular client they’re trying to help, and they are seeking some alternate perspectives on why the client is responding the way they are, and what might be done to help them.)
When I meet a new lay-person client, in many cases they have already seen a psychiatrist, psychologist, counsellor, therapist, life coach, or maybe even a mindfulness instructor. And in most cases the clients quickly and easily grasped the nature of their issues as described by those professionals, and in most cases I agreed with those general assessments.
Angry people know they and others will benefit if they calm down. And they can often see the reasons why they act as they do. And they can understand, intellectually, what they are supposed to do instead. Likewise, sad people can agree with the reasons they are sad, and with what will help.
Athletes know they need greater focus, professionals know they need more confidence. And almost every case the person could describe the sorts of things that they’ve been told, or they believe, would make a difference. The problem emerges when they attempt to turn those ideas into the ongoing daily practice of mental health.
The logic of the psyche is a very real thing. But knowing it as a static thing is pure theory. It’s why we still see many mental health professionals burning out or committing suicide—because even great people with excellent static knowledge are useless to any three-dimensional person who lives in the moment, including themselves.
It is only when we can embody our knowledge that we can convert theories into practices, or lessons about awareness, into actual, active awareness. It is when we stop thinking, and begin truly living, that we gain the perspective and insights that allow us to see how we can expose other’s egos to them.
While I am flattered by all of the testimonials I have received both in writing and verbally, the one that I felt most beautifully captured the difference between a true mindfulness-reality process, and most theoretical psychological ‘work,’ was from a student who is a brilliant and internationally sought-after artist. He astutely said:
“The training gets you in the Moment. It’s experiential. Unlike reading about living in the present, this actually lets you do it. It’s the difference between reading about swimming and taking swimming lessons. Have you read Eckhart Tolle’s books? It’s what he writes about. Unlike therapy, which challenges, Principles Training is pleasant, fun and you feel good after a session.”
I love that. It’s so much smarter than anything I would have come up with, because I do not really know what it’s like to grow up believing my thinking. He had done other work and could feel the difference in what we did together, and he grasped that difference in a way I could never hope to from my perspective.
For doctors and patients alike—the theories are generally true. Knowing them is helpful in many ways. But theories are about other times, and other places, and other people. A practice happens in the Now. If we, as professionals, want to help people find internal peace, we must do so by being fully present, where we ourselves are embodying the internal clarity our clients and students are seeking.
If you would like to book phone, video or in-person mindfulness classes, and experience these changes yourself, contact me at firstname.lastname@example.org
A serious childhood brain injury lead Scott to spend his entire life meditating on the concepts of thought, consciousness, reality and identity. It made others as strange to him as he was to them. When he realized people were confused by their own over-thinking, Scott began teaching others to understand reality. He is currently CBC Radio Active’s Wellness Columnist, as well as a writer, speaker and mindfulness instructor based in Edmonton, AB where he still finds it strange to write about himself in the third person.