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5 Lessons about Being Present: Freedom is Where My Feet Are

“Let us not look back in anger, nor forward in fear, but around in awareness.” ~James Thurber

As I begin each day, I must remind myself, “Erin, stay where your feet are.”

If I keep my attention on the place where my feet reside, I have a better chance of remaining in the here and now. What’s here and now is all there is, so we’re told.

Most of us know this in our heads, but integrating it into our daily living is another thing all together. It’s a practice—one that must remain a part of our awareness if we hope to be released from suffering.

Sometimes when I am running, my head replays old movies—only they’re the movies of my past or the movies I am creating in my mind about the future.

All too often I notice myself feeling all beaten up by my thoughts because I remember things I’ve said that hurt people or embarrassed me. Sometimes I’m replaying movies of the things an ex-boyfriend or lover said to me, and I either begin to miss him painfully or feel incredibly humiliated for being so stupid to fall for his words.

“If only I had done things differently” becomes the sound track to the movies in my head. When I’m driving, I’ve become aware of the way I take the early stages of a relationship and progress them into the future, deciding how things will turn out in one year or ten years from that particular moment.

Or maybe I’m having a conversation with a client who isn’t even there, about how angry I am that they don’t pay me on time or respond to my emails about their invoice. All these thoughts are filled with judgment, and by living in them over and over again, I continue to attract more of them.

This way of thinking takes me away from my present experience.

When I live in the past or future, I miss out on the freedom and peace in the now.

Lately, I am becoming aware much sooner and quicker when this happens.

As soon as I begin to feel bad or caught up in how I want things to turn out, I find my feet and begin again. I must stay present as if my life depends on it, because it does.

When I truly look at my resentment with clear eyes, honesty, and an open heart, I can recognize my part in everything—even if my part is just that I am still holding onto it.

When I look beyond my petty resentments, I become aware of the fear, shame, disappointment, and pain that lie at the root of each grudge. With this kind of awareness I can see how I continue to carry heaviness with me from the past, allowing it to project fear and suffering into my future.

I can see how the past keeps creating my future, and when I am conscious of this, I get to make another choice. I get to forgive the past and embrace the now.

You see, anger, resentment, fear, jealously, envy, worry, doubt, mistrusting—these are all things that can feel very real to us at the time we are experiencing them. However, they are of the mind, and just excuses to hang on to yesterday or to live in tomorrow.

We should allow ourselves to really feel our feelings, and not avoid them, try to change them, or suppress them in any way; but some thoughts we must reject.

When my ego starts convincing me that I am not attractive enough, smart enough, or good enough, I remember these are not reality. These thoughts distract me from being in the here and now.

They take me out of the present and away from reality. When I notice myself spinning out in some dramatic story in my head, I become aware that I am no longer present.

So I am learning and remembering to simply ask myself, “Erin, where are your feet?”

And then I hear, “Come home.” This voice is bigger than me, and it reminds me to forgive myself, take a deep breath, and to come back to the present, to the truth—to return to love and freedom, and to show up fully for others.

The Vacuum Law of Prosperity states that “two things cannot take up the same space, so we must let something go before the new can enter.”

In other words, there must be a space for incoming gifts before you are available to receive. There was a time when the current changes in my career and financial security, and transitions around my relationships and their healing, would have completely freaked me out. There was a time when I perceived life as happening to me rather than for me.

This old perception still haunts me from time to time, but I catch myself much more quickly these days, and it’s not nearly as intense. Then I just shift.

This consciousness is always available to us in the here and now. If we breathe, get quiet, look around, and simply observe, we will understand that by being right here in the now we don’t have to hurt.

Suffering is not in the fact but in our perception of the fact.

Our perception is usually based on anger, fear, lack, doubt, past, or future, or information given to us by someone other than ourselves.

There was a time in my life when I would have handled my current professional expansion and financial circumstances in a very different manner. I would have blamed everyone and everything for all the things that did not go my way or turn out the way I thought best. I would have been too fearful to fully embrace the slow unraveling of my vision.

These feelings would fuel a lack of faith and trust that would carry over into the next day and the next. My past became my proof that things never worked out in my favor, and that gave me the justification I needed to doubt and mistrust everyone and everything.

So the cycle would continue, over and over, until I broke the pattern and instead began to look around in awareness.

When I made a decision to let go of the past and to not worry about things that haven’t happened yet, I got to experience a paradigm shift in consciousness.

Today I know I am not losing anything. I know that I am, in fact, gaining everything I never knew I always had.

Here’s what I’ve have learned:

1. As I rise up into new levels of consciousness, what is no longer in alignment with it or my highest good must fall away.

This can feel scary so it takes courage. One of my favorite sayings is this: “Courage is not having no fear at all, but it’s feeling the fear and doing it anyway.”

2. When I feel the anger of the past or the fear of the unknown, I simply find my feet and begin again.

There is great freedom, wonder, and mystery in the present. Look around, ask, seek, and discover that which is waiting to be discovered by you and expressed through you.

3. Whatever is showing up in your current experience is meant to be there or it wouldn’t be.

This helps me put my life into perspective and allows me to move from a victim place to the victor in every situation.Even if you do not believe in fate, it can still be very empowering to consider that everything can have some type of useful meaning.

4. Surrender to knowing nothing.

Sometimes we just need to wash ourselves clean of everything we have ever learned or think we know, and just surrender to the guidance of a power greater than ourselves. Surrender to your higher knowing within.

Knowing nothing makes us teachable. Let go of your perceptions of the facts and just let everything be as it may. Example: There is no suffering in Monday but only in our perception of Monday.

5. Let go of what you are still holding on to that needs to be released.

In order to be available, we must create a vacuum by cleaning out the stuff we no longer need. What negative feelings, resentments, bad habits, or old ways of thinking are you holding on to?

What relationships should have ended months or years ago? What clothes and shoes are cluttering your closet that you haven‘t worn in over a year? What junk is taking up space in your filing cabinets or kitchen drawers? Cleanse, clear, release, and in your emptiness you shall be filled with good.

Photo by D. Sharon Pruitt

Avatar of Erin Lanahan

About Erin Lanahan

Erin is an Internationally Certified Holistic Health Coach, Personal Trainer, Yoga Instructor, Motivational Writer/Speaker & Life Empowerment Mentor. Her mission is to inspire as many people as possible to return to their natural state of peace, abundance, health, inspiration & love. Visit her blog  and  You Tube Page.

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  • http://twitter.com/reinventing64 Pamela Picard

    Really nice post, Erin. “Where are my feet?” is a wonderful picture for our mental screen when fear is strictly in charge and out of control. When I doubt my path or panic about results, fear takes off like a team of runaway horses in one of those old Western movies. I’m bouncing around behind, off the wagon, in the wagon, above the wagon, hanging on to the wagon’s sides. In this rampage, I am unable to imagine how to rein them in. If I let them run away, I’m screwed. If I hold the reins too tight, I’m screwed. At this point, finding my feet and standing still, even if shakily, sounds like a heck of a good idea. Thank you! I’ve cross posted your piece to my blog http://www.reinventing64.com Happy New Year! Pam

  • http://twitter.com/theheydayshop Katie Yang

    :)

  • Erin Lanahan

    Hey Pam…thanks…I will definitely check out your blog. Yes, I find it helps to have SIMPLE ways to keep us present, since it can be so easy to forget and therefore to end up somewhere unnecessary:-) I am wishing you a Happy 2011. Thanks for your share!
    xo Erin

  • Eric Blanco

    I enjoyed this post very much, and found it enlightening-that’s not meant to be ironic, btw. Best, Eric

  • BJ

    I love that life happens for me rather than to me!

  • http://twitter.com/riduridu Mahmudul Hasan

    I loved it.

  • Winickster

    Thank you for this thoughtful post. Misery is a universal problem which requires a universal solution. Vipassana meditation is truly the key. Google it. Oh and it’s free!!! :)

    May all beings be happy, be peaceful, be liberated.

    Loving kindness to all beings and Happy New Year!

  • Erin Lanahan

    I know…this is such a refreshing shift in consciousness for me too:) Thanks for sharing BJ! Happy New Year!

  • Erin Lanahan

    Thanks for your share:-) I will look into Vipassana. I love meditation, yoga, and prayer, and find that these are just permanent tools in my toolbox for living a life with optimal health and well-being. Happy and Healthy New Year To You!

  • Erin Lanahan

    Thank you Mahmudul :-) Happy 2011 to you and your loved ones!

  • Erin Lanahan

    Hi Eric, thank you for participating. I appreciate you! Happy New Year!

  • Posterior

    wait… when you talk about ‘lovers’, does that mean you’re sort of whore-y in a good way?

  • Deann

    Thank you, I needed to read and begin to practice these concepts more than you could possibly know!
    Life has been spinning horribly out of control and I need to stop and simply see where my feet are!!!!!

  • Hiral

    Hi erin. I really enjoy this article. As i gone through whole article i feel it is my current situation. Today is last year of day and surely remember yr tips for better future. Really thanks for sharing this.

  • Elly

    Love it…thank you!

  • Kalley

    This was a beautiful post! Thank you. This really gave me the little “pick up” that I’ve been needing lately. Going to “stay with my feet” today. :)

  • Erin Lanahan

    Awesome Kalley…me too :-) Thank you for sharing… Happy New Year!

  • Erin Lanahan

    Hi Hiral…thank you. It’s nice that we all get to share our experiences together, so that no one ever has to feel alone. Here’s to an amazing year for you! Thanks for sharing:)

  • Erin Lanahan

    Hi Deann, thank you for sharing with us. I know how intense it can feel at times, when we are going though challenges or facing the unknown. What helps me the most is to look at things as if I’d planned them before they happened, for my own healing. Then, instead of spinning out of control and going insane, I can gain sanity and clarity around my life based on the lessons and gifts that are hidden in the so called “obstacles.” My obstacles are always ultimately huge opportunities for me to become even more of my true self and to live a life that is even more open, honest, and authentic, and one that helps others do the same. Here’s to a really happy and healthy 2011 to you and your loved ones!

  • KitsiLana

    sharing a quote from Jane Hooper ~
    Please come home…Find the place where your feet know where to walk, and follow your own trail home…Please come home into your own body, your own vessel, your own earth. Please come home into each and every cell, and fully into the space that surrounds you…And once you are firmly there, Please stay home awhile and come to a deep rest within…Thank you Earth for welcoming us! And thank you touch of eyes and ears and skin ~~touch of love, for welcoming us. May we wake up and remember who we truly are. Please come home.

  • KitsiLana

    sharing a quote from Jane Hooper ~
    Please come home…Find the place where your feet know where to walk, and follow your own trail home…Please come home into your own body, your own vessel, your own earth. Please come home into each and every cell, and fully into the space that surrounds you…And once you are firmly there, Please stay home awhile and come to a deep rest within…Thank you Earth for welcoming us! And thank you touch of eyes and ears and skin ~~touch of love, for welcoming us. May we wake up and remember who we truly are. Please come home.

  • KitsiLana

    ps- I love the shoes ~ they look like the tippity tappity kind

  • KitsiLana

    ps- I love the shoes ~ they look like the tippity tappity kind

  • KitsiLana

    ps- I love the shoes ~ they look like the tippity tappity kind

  • KitsiLana

    ps- I love the shoes ~ they look like the tippity tappity kind

  • Erin Lanahan

    Wow…that’s beautiful, thanks for that Kitsi!

  • Erin Lanahan

    I know aren’t those great! :-) Happy New Year!

  • http://www.lemonadefromlife.com Jennifer Garza

    Feel as if I’ve met a kindred spirit…a similar background in counseling might explain it, but I share these core beliefs and feel them in my life. I’m glad to see you sharing these concepts with others ;) People are much better served when they realize that their thoughts, not their circumstances, create their emotions. Once this is realized, people can harness their personal power to bring about awesome changes in their lives!

  • Erin Lanahan

    Hi Jennifer, thank you:) You are right on, and I am honored and humbled to get to share the wisdom and tools I’ve picked up along the way as a result of my experiences. It’s good to connect with you here. Happy New Year!

  • http://jasminbalance.com Larissa

    This is such a great post. I have challenges with this all of the time. I really liked what Jasmin at JasminBalance.com posted about a wondering mind as well. You can find it at http://www.jasminbalance.com/2010/11/18/nytimes-when-mind-wanders-happiness-strays/.

  • Jade

    Thanks for these wise words! I just saw this today and I believe I was meant to see it… totally applies to my current state of mind.

  • Erinsheri

    It’s amazing to hear these words. I’m going though a particularly tough time right now and it’s comforting to know that it is not the situation creating the emotions. It is my own negative thoughts and me not embracing the moment. I’m finding my freedom through these articles. Thanks Erin :)

  • Anonymous

    I know…what a relief right :) It’s amazing how much trouble that little head of ours can get us in if we aren’t watching it, lol. I’m happy this helped you. It’s an honor to share and I appreciate your sharing too. Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Hi Jade…that’s awesome. I am so happy this was here for you in a time of need. I love it when that happens:) Good to connect with you! Thank you!

  • Anonymous

    Thank you Larissa…I think we all have challenges with this. However, when we can be aware of it is when we no longer have to suffer from it :) Thanks for sharing with me!

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  • Sdklein

    I am going to try so spend my day with awareness of where my feet are. 

  • http://twitter.com/EcoWhy Igytomas

    Well said, with personal touch. There is no other reality apart from now and it needs to be learned as nicely say by staying “where you feet are” :)
    I like that. 
    Recently, I’ve heard something like: I see money as a thank you notes, so allowing myself to take them for all my service.

  • Andrealepua

    At this time in
    My life..
    Being in control of my mind..
    Is all i need…

  • Rivermous

    Im in a 12 step program,I find Tiny Buda …Fantastic…With the tools I now have in my life I find this site inspiring ,love the wrighting…inspiration to grow..thank you.this site is a blessing..

  • Sara

    This was a wonderful post, and just what I needed to hear at this time (long-distance boyfriend broke up with me a month ago, and I’m graduating from college in May). At such a time of change, I needed to know how to focus on being in the present, and your words gave me such comfort.

  • Danielle

    Your post is strongly reminiscent of Eckhart Tolle and the Power of Now – but I like that you added your twist of “Stay where your feet are.” All great lessons, thank you for your post!

  • Debbie

    Thank you Winickster … I hope you don’t mind … I took your “May all beings be happy … ” for my signature on emails!!! … Be well and happy always…

  • J

    That was SUCH A GOOD POST. I completely relate to every word, feeling, thought! After a few terrible relationships I now suffer from living in the past and stressing about the future in a huge way and it is really hard to change my mind set. But something as simple as asking yourself “where are your feet” has made me feel better about living in the present already.
    Whats nice to know aswell – is we are not alone with this feeling.

    Thanks Erin – very inspired on a Friday afternoon.

  • Maphoka

    THIS IS SO POWERFUL, THANK YOU SO MUCH.

  • http://www.LimitlessMindset.com/ Jonathan Roseland

    Hey Erin, Here’s a narcissistic videoblog that demystifies and takes a gamification approach to ‘being present’ http://youtu.be/_Mu_KNGvkII

  • Eileen

    Thank you for this. I found this article when I was googling why is everything/relationships in my life falling away. You hit it on the bulls eye and I needed this.

  • http://www.productiveinsights.com/ Ash

    Hi Erin,

    I really like what you have to say in this post. I agree that the present moment is all we ever really have.

    Have you come across mindfulness as a practice? I’ve been practising mindfulness for about 3 years now and it’s results are subtle but dramatic. The power is in it’s cumulative effect.

    I write quite a few articles about mindfulness in my blog as I’m feel I owe a lot to this amazing practice. Here’s a recent article I wrote called the Ultimate guide to mindfulness : including 34 benefits

    http://productiveinsights.com/productivity-blog/2013/12/07/60-mindfulness-ultimate-guide/

    Hope you and the readers find it helpful.