Amanda Johnson

Love the life you have and have the life you want


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This Moment Is Your Life

As Omar Khayyam said, “Be happy for this moment … this moment is your life.” Not the past or the future be it a day ago or 10 minutes from now, not our dreams or our regrets, not our job or our title or our relationship status or the stamps in our passport (or lack thereof) or the money we’ve acquired or the car we drive. This moment. This is life. And every person can experience a fulfilling life by acknowledging that life is happening right now.

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Perhaps it’s the fact that I took a huge, non-socially acceptable leap and quit my job a few months ago and now have more time on my hands than before, but this has never rang so true for me as it does now. To realize that this very moment IS my life is so freeing, lightening and refreshing.

Not all present moments seem so “ideal.” It can be difficult to accept that this moment is life if we are resisting this moment. And yet the reality remains the same — this moment is all there is and life is simply comprised of many of these moments.

I find that my life is so much easier and more joyful now that I allow myself to simply be in this moment and stop thinking I “ought” to be doing something else or putting pressure on myself for what is or isn’t happening.

My mission is to help others improve their experience of life. This means that I need to be here and now and not thinking about the woman who cut me off today or worrying about what the future may hold. I need to create space for each and every sensation, feeling and thought that I experience in this moment. I need to acknowledge it, feel it, accept it and then let it flow through me without judging it or identifying with it. That is the only way I can create space for the next moment and all that it has to offer. We can expand our possibilities this way and this way alone.

Now it is not always easy but it is based on a few very simple principles.

  • Strive to be 100% present in each and every moment (no matter what it is you are doing)
  • Accept everything as it happens in the moment (do not resist or label it)
  • Be open-minded to everything as it occurs (do not be confined by self-limiting beliefs)
  • Ask “is anything wrong in this very moment?” (not what happened 5 minutes ago or might happen next week)

This is not to say that you cannot set intentions (I prefer this to “goals”) or decide to make changes to your life situation. But until we can create space through acceptance, non-judgment and detachment, we are unable to make decisions based on the reality of the situation and not based out of fear, anxiety or another equally impractical emotion.

It’s not about the “should’s” or the “should not’s” — it is what it is. There is nothing to fear, doubt, stress over, worry about, anxiously await, or figure out. You are already living life — your life — right this moment. And this moment is all we ever have.

Who would you be if you allowed yourself to simply be in the moment and stop thinking you “ought” to be doing something else or putting pressure on yourself for what is or isn’t happening? Join the conversation by leaving a comment.

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Moving from “Binges” to “Daily Doses” of Presence

Someone asked me the other day, “how do I recreate the energy and peace I feel after some sort of intense spiritual retreat or workshop each and every day?” This got me thinking about the simple (albeit not always easy) things I try to practice on a regular basis to bring about a more constant experience of ease and joy. While binging on spiritual or philosophical experiences or concepts can be fun, helpful and sometimes even necessary, it is important and possible for all of us to experience daily doses of presence by practicing a few simple techniques. Image

I have been reading self-help books since I was in high school. As I read each one I was inspired and energized about my new possibilities and potential to experience life in a new way. And then a few days, weeks or months after I put the book back on the shelf, I returned to my old habits, ways of thinking, and struggled to maintain that “spiritual high” throughout my day-to-day existence.

Then, I learned a few concepts and practical tips that helped me experience this new way of life on a regular basis. After being asked that question the other day, I wanted to share with others the things I have found that work.

Being at peace, letting go, and experiencing ease and joy on a daily basis is really just as simple as making a choice. There are many great tools and workshops out there that help you understand why you feel the way you feel, why you experience things the way you experience them, and still it all comes down to releasing your hold on your past and choosing in each and every moment to be present — it’s that simple.

Eckhart Tolle reminds us that the “how” is more important than the “what.” One of my biggest “ah ha” moments came after reading this and realizing that to live in the present does not mean we have to do crazy, amazing things — or even anything different than what we’re doing this very moment. It’s all about HOW we do WHAT we do. Presence actually gives us the “ok” to enjoy the simple things (the “what”) by accepting each and every moment and not feel pressure to CHANGE the moment (the “how”).

Now, this isn’t always easy for me to do and for those of us new to this concept, it may not sound that simple. So, here is a list of the things I try and practice on a daily basis, most of which comes from Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of NowOnce I decided to accept these concepts and apply them, I couldn’t believe the shift that took place and the steady drip of ease and joy in my life.

  • Stay connected with your body as often as possible. Tolle says, “You cannot be in your body without being intensely present in the Now.” Paying attention to your body and your feelings does not mean you have to focus on or over-think them. It simply means that you can observe them, feel them, and accept them as they are.
  • Practice conscious breathing (which helps get you in touch with your body). “Become aware of your breathing. Feel the air flowing in and out of your body.… All that you ever have to deal with, cope with, in real life — as opposed to imaginary mind projections — is this moment.” (Tolle)
  • “Flood” your body with consciousness (before falling asleep and when waking up). Bring attention to different parts of your body in a relaxed state.
  • Listen to the silence. Don’t force it, just pay attention to the silence between words, sounds and thoughts.
  • Practice mindfulness. Experience something as simple as eating an orange or looking at a flower in a state of complete alertness and as if for the first time.
  • Be grateful. Take time to express gratitude for even the simple things in life.
  • Accept, accept, accept. Ask yourself: Am I resisting this moment? Am I judging this moment? Am I attached to this moment?

While I still plan to read more books and attend inspirational workshops, I am practicing ways to bring a more steady stream of presence into my life. My goal is to bring presence to the masses through choice — and choice alone — on a daily basis. We tend to get bogged down in the “why” and the “what” — but it’s really all about the “how.” HOW do I show up in this moment? HOW do I choose to react/respond/feel in this moment? HOW can I be at peace with this moment? By asking these questions and practicing a few of these techniques throughout the day, we can all experience daily doses of ease and joy that last long after we finish the book or return back to our daily routines.

What is something you do on a regular basis to experience a daily dose of joy or peace in your life?


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To accept or not to accept …

Ever fret over what you should do tonight? Ever wish you hadn’t sent that text message? Ever think you should have gone on that trip? Ever spent hours’ worth of energy making a choice and then hours’ worth of energy afterwards regretting it? I find myself today struggling with this very thing. While I do my best to fully accept my current situation and my reality each and every day, I still struggle with this concept sometimes.

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One of my current goals is to do a better job listening to my feelings and trusting myself when I have a “gut” instinct about something. Recently, I made a decision not to go on a trip with someone after noticing that I was having some anxiety about the trip. When I tuned into that feeling and sat with it for a couple of days, I came to the conclusion that, in that moment, it was best for me not to go. And at the time, I felt at peace about my decision. It reminded me of something I read in The Power of Now where Eckhart Tolle says, “let [your decision] come not from reaction but from insight, from a clear realization of what is right or not right for you at that moment.”

A few days later, I find myself dwelling on the choice I made and doubting if I made the “right” choice. This doubting is my current source of suffering and I am being reminded of the importance to surrender myself on a regular basis to accept the decisions I make about my life.

When we resist our reality — which includes the choices we make — we are suffering. Psychology Today’s article on “The Power of Acceptance” explores this very thing and explains how by resisting something ensuresImage that it will have a more negative effect, whereas accepting something will neutralize it if not transform unpleasant feelings or experiences. Now, of course, there are certain things in life we shouldn’t accept, but I am talking about the majority of things that make up our life situation, whether it be the decision we made to send a certain text message, live in a certain city, stay home on a Friday night, have a certain job, need to go grocery shopping for the dinner we want to make, raise a child, etcetera, etcetera, etcetera. Tolle reminds us that there are only three options for a given situation: remove yourself from it (if that is an option), change it (if that is an option), or accept it wholly (which is always an option). It is quite refreshing to realize I only have three choices – and that full acceptance is always an option.

Once a decision has been made, to continue to expend energy on whether or not that was the “right” decision resists “what is” and causes suffering. “When you accept what is — every moment — is the best. That is enlightenment.” (Tolle)

Life is a constant choice between acceptance of or resistance to the moment. And, I have found that the experience of life is filled with more ease and joy as more decisions and experiences are accepted for “what they are” and less energy is exerted doubting and resisting. As Tolle says, “Whatever the present moment contains, accept it as if you had chosen it. Always work with it, not against it. Make it your friend and ally, not your enemy. This will miraculously  transform your whole life.”

And, when I find myself slipping away from acceptance — which happens since I am still human — that is the moment it is crucial to be compassionate with myself and remember that I do the best I can in each and every moment. Acceptance and compassion are two very powerful tools towards living a more joyful existence.

Take it from me as someone who has spent most of her life resisting the reality of her situation — everything from the shape of my nose, the crookedness of my teeth, being single, being in a relationship, deciding to do something and later wishing I hadn’t — to accept things “as is” is one of the best things someone can do to improve their experience of life.

What decision have you made recently that deserves your full acceptance? Does your present moment contain something that needs your full acceptance as if you had chosen it for yourself?