Be here now.
Been thinking a lot this week about how much of a challenge it is for many of us to be fully present in the moment, as opposed to been drawn either into the past or dreaming of the future. And never has that been more of a challenge than for many of us right now navigating these seemingly unending lockdowns. When we are uncomfortable (as so many of us are in 2021) with the here and now we find ourselves longing for days past when we enjoyed freedoms and travel that we can’t access now, or we spend time drifting off to focus on all the things we long to do when things change.
In amongst these challenging times, we often feel that there’s nothing to do, we’re bored and anything that we could possibly imagine doing to keep ourselves occupied and connected (teddy-bears in windows, spoonvile, sourdough…) we did way back in lockdown 1.0. Which means that now we find that we are maybe spending too much time playing computer games, scrolling on our phones, eating, online shopping [insert your own maladaptive preoccupation of the week]. This is almost the antithesis of being present – it’s avoidance and numbing at its very best!
I was listening to a recent podcast from my new fave podcaster, Professor Andrew Huberman (The Huberman Lab) with Dr Anna Lembke, MD, Chief of the Standford Addiction Medicine Dual Diagnosis Clinic and it got me thinking more broadly about boredom and how it applies to what we are navigating things right now. Dr Anna Lembke talks a lot about how patients in her recovery program learn that boredom is an essentially necessary human experience that if we harness, can help us be very present and grounded in the now, a real challenge when your dopamine system is out of kilter which is what happens when you’re battling an addiction.
There are literally dozens of things that we could be doing with our time right now. Many of them are frankly unpalatable after such a long time navigating the sorts of hardships that we weren’t really designed to navigate. Others are really big challenges that seem really hard because it feels like we’ve already had to do lots of challenging things. I am often cautioning clients at the moment not to be too hard on ourselves when they say things like, “I had all these big dreams of what I was going to do during COVID lockdown and I’ve done none of it.”
What if we tuned into the small and necessary things that are all around us that need to be done – Prof Huberman tells a great tale about why he empties his garbage as an example. Instead of taking our eyes towards a big, passion-and-purpose type of focus, we looked around us and asked, what can I see that needs tending to? Instead of distracting ourselves in a multitude of future-focused grand ideas, we sat and mindfully asked, what work needs my attention. Because there is so much that needs doing right now, for all of us, for the people around us and the world in general.
If you need support with addiction, boredom or finding ways to be mindfully present, we have a team of therapists at Thea Baker Wellbeing – please reach out to us at: firstname.lastname@example.org / 03 9077 8194.