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How to Stop Life From Passing You By

December 24th, 2007 by Ryan

How to stop life from passing you byDo you ever feel like your life is slipping through your fingers or that time is passing you by and you are powerless to stop it? 

I remember looking forward to special events or milestones in my life for many weeks, months or years.  "I just can't wait until this happens," I would tell myself as I'd get lost into my dreams of being there in the future. 

When the event finally happened, I felt like it went too fast as if I didn't get to savor it long enough or that it didn't fulfill me as much as I hoped.

The future does not exist, nor does the past.  The only thing that's real is NOW, this very moment.  Everything else is an illusion. As soon as you start thinking about the past, you are living in your memories.  As soon as you start imagining your future, you are living in your dreams. 

Both only exist in your mind.

I see only two ways to experience life at any given moment:

1. Living in the mind.
2. Living in the experience.

The mind is a tool for you to use to interpret your life, decide what you like and what you dislike, and create your own reality.  It is a necessary part of this existence, though most people use it more then they need to.

For example, when I am going to surf, I usually check the surf report online to see if the waves are breaking and at which beach.  I use my mind to look up the various reports and then decide on a beach and go.  Once I get to the beach, I surf for a few hours and enjoy the fresh air, bright sun, crashing waves, the sand underfoot; the whole experience.

The total time to look up the surf report is 5 minutes.  Investing that small amount of time enhances my experience of 3 hours surfing dramatically because it allows me to find the best waves.

But what if instead of spending 5 minutes on the report, I spent 3 hours researching the waves by analyzing each surf report & weather report in detail, checking various sources, calling friends, checking past charts and historic ocean swells, etc.  After which, I finally drove out to the one beach that my research specified was the best and found out my research was spot on! 

So I surfed for a total of 5 minutes, since that was all the time I had left.

That sounds ridiculous but it is the exact same thing many of us do with our own life.  I know I've done it.  Sure the mind is important and a little bit of research and analyzing is important but it's not everything.  In fact, it's not even close.  

The secret to enjoying life and grabbing time by the balls and saying "not so fast" is to become aware, to become present.  When you are about to eat, don't think about what's going on in the news, or what people you have to call, or what projects you want to work on, just eat.   Enjoy the food, observe the texture, breathe in the smell, appreciate the quality, savor the flavor. 

Play with your food. Our parents had it wrong this whole time.

Take any activity like walking around the park, having a drink with an old friend, or your favorite exercise and see if you can observe and experience everything

See if you can empty your mind completely and merge with the other person while you are talking with them.  Allow their every movement, word, and expression to soak into your perception.  It will amaze you.  You don't need to read all these body language books, just be aware.

It's tough at first and I am no master yet, but keep at it.  When you've experienced an event so fully with all your senses, that feeling of life "passing you by" will be gone and will be replaced by warmth and appreciation for life and all of existence.

When you are living in this experience on a constant basis, you open up the doors to abundance and true happiness. 

Give it a try and share your experience with us in the comment section if you like.

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14 Responses to “How to Stop Life From Passing You By”

  1. bigsend Says:

    Man that was a beautiful post, great analogies and emphasis

    :cheers: !

  2. BartB Says:

    You’ve just increased my desire to learn how to surf! I hear a lot of people speaking about surfing on almost spiritual terms.

    Sure there are a few activities that we easily zone out to – or rather zone in – and we should really be present for more of them.

    I feel really present when make art, both drawing and sculpture (both of which I am less than mediocre at). I also feel in the moment when I’m singing, especially in a group. I love getting lost in the sound. When you’re with in chorus, it isn’t about you anymore, it’s about the music. There shouldn’t be any showboating or MVP’s. The group is best when there are no individual singers, there is only the choir. There is also something about the vibration of the sound, both inside and outside of your body that I love. When you dissolve into the sound you’re not going limp. It’s still a lot of effort to sing correctly and be in tune. Sometimes I even sweat after singing for a while.

    I know it’s odd, but going to the restroom is another one for me. In public or private, I just do my thing. I don’t think about work or the traffic or the time – Zen.

    Evan, I didn’t really get the same impression that you did. In your opinion, why wouldn’t you want to generalize it to the mind?

    Anyway, there are proper times to be thinking, and proper times to be experiencing. To turn a biblical phrase, to everything there is a season, a time to every purpose, a time to live in the moment, a time to think about living, a time to embrace thought, and a time to refrain from embracing it and just be (Ecclesiastes 3).

    What’s you guy’s favorite activity to be present?

  3. BartB Says:

    Anyway, I just wanted to wish you all a Merry Christmas tomorrow. Also, thanks for the space to have mental outburst!

  4. Evan Hadkins Says:

    Your skill at surfing is past experience. The decisions you make on the wave are your mind in action.

    The division between mind and experience is not nearly so neat.

    I suspect you of enjoying sensation rather than thinking. Nothing wrong with that – I need to do more of it. Just don’t generalise it to the mind.

  5. Ryan Says:

    Thanks Bigsend!

    Whatup Evan. I interpret the mind differently. During times of presence your brain’s decision making power bypasses the intellectual part of our brain and is controlled by our older, automated part.

    So while the brief moments before catching the wave I do make decisions such as timing, angle, and direction, once I am on the wave, it’s pure bliss for those few seconds. My body is on auto pilot and my consciousness is the motion of the wave.

    I resisted this idea of the mind being overrated for so long since I loved being in my mind (or at least thought I did). My mind had tricked me into thinking I needed it more than I did.

    It’s not really something I can prove to you with words, it’s something you must experience and come to your own understanding. I am still very much in the discovery stage of this, so I definitely don’t have all the answers.

  6. Ryan Says:

    Hey Bart,

    Wow man, I never realized how awesome singing can feel. I intent to go to a voice or singing coach one of these days just for the fun of it. That’s a great quote, and one of the lessons I am learning is to let go of analysis and just be….that is the danger of blogging, training your brain to analyze everything which results in being stuck in the mind.

    My favorite activity for becoming present is to hit balls at the batting cages and sex of course πŸ™‚

  7. Ryan Says:

    Oh and nice one on the being present in the bathroom, lol. Sadly that is probably the only presence most people feel during the day.

  8. Tania Says:

    Great post Ryan! Living in the present is a common theme that runs through many of my posts as well as my life. Makes life so much more fun. Sensuality. I explained this one night in a bar with a guy… totally get into your beer, feel the wetness, cold and slippery-ness of the glass… the feel of your lips on the glass… the actual taste & feel of the beer in your mouth. Sure he never enjoyed a beer so much πŸ™‚
    Love your writing style, really shows that it comes from the heart.

  9. Alex Kay Says:

    Interesting post Ryan! Myself I try to draw and paint to really “feel in the moment”, but I am also kind of practicing to transfer that “mind emptyness” to other areas of my life. Have a great day πŸ™‚

  10. Ryan Says:

    Thanks Tania. That’s a great description of really drinking a beer. I do that now at least once when I’m out to a club. Often I’ll step outside away from my friends and just enjoy a beer and look up at the sky. It’s funny, I usually have new people come up and meet me or my friends come to see what I’m doing.

    Hey Alex, yeah drawing and painting are fun. I think that mind emptiness you are talking about is like being “in the zone” of complete purpose and focus. It’s a great place to be. Now to get there on a consistent basis…

  11. Jared Says:

    Live in the present. Sometimes I do not want to do that..thinking about how life will be like when i achieve my goals is sometimes more enjoyable than facing the current realities. I am an This is one of my sins..

  12. Ryan Says:

    Lol, Jared. I definitely love to escape into my dreams for a while. That is the best of what your mind is capable of, as it lays out the framework for creating your reality and attracts new things into your life. The problem comes when our mind falls into somewhere in between, not quite creating new visions but not quite experiencing life.

  13. Dstructor Says:

    Hey ryan
    Nice post really, kinda similar to a problem i had…I’ve been living in my head for almost 7 years now, just realized it and realized how agonizing the feeling is. For the first four years of the 7 i was in a school but had major problems with other kids, probably for the same reason; screwed up analysis of things

    The prevailing belief was that i can control people’s action by doing what makes them respond in a certain way. I have a lot of material to help me through this but it’s tough and i wanted your personal opinion about it

    NB: This summer vacation i’m starting to live life a little; really using self improvment and not waiting for situations with women in it, exercising & kickboxing so i’m not waiting to solve this issue to start living anymore. Thnx in advance

  14. Ryan Says:

    Dstructor, cool to hear man. It seems like you are on the path and motivated to grow which is the most crucial part. What exactly is your question? If it’s about letting go of trying to control others action and response, I would suggest looking into abrahams material (in the resource section). That would be a great start to cultivate a healthier attitude with others for you and them.

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