We’ve all heard the phrases ‘live in the moment’, ‘life is passing you by’, or ‘stop and smell the roses’. How many of us, however, heed their advice? I would assert that it cannot be done in these modern times without the conscious effort of a plan. Society trains our brains to live in the past and future. We are challenged to learn from our history so we don’t make the same mistakes. We are told to plan for our future so we are prepared and secure. While these things are necessary, we have lost the ability to appreciate ‘now.’ I believe that our brains are rarely tuned into the moment and that this is the cause for much of the depression and anxiety people experience today. Even if you are not depressed or anxious, living soley in the past and future robs us of joys that are right in front of our face. I am not being superior, because this old therapist is just as guilty as anyone. I made major changes in my life a year ago that set me up for a life that could be happily lived more often in the present. Old habits die hard and I’ve recently found myself slipping into those patterns of over-thought and planning again that take me away from today. Becoming an actress has given me the chance every day to practice what I preach. Sanford Meisner’s technique for acting resonates with me. He proposed that good acting is “living truthfully under imaginary circumstances.” The Meisner technique trains actors to be in the moment. You may repeat the same lines every performance, but they should always be a little different if they are motivated by that moment. It makes you aware of your fellow actors, so you can work off of them, yourself and your surroundings. There is a term in the psychological world called ‘mindfulness’. Give yourself the gift of browsing this term and searching for exercises. Mindfulness is simply the practice of living in the moment. It might start with a few minutes of meditation each day where you focus on your breath, what you hear, feel and see at that given moment while calling your mind back every time it drifts. It can be appreciating the sound of your laugh, your child’s smile, the smell of chocolate, the warm sun on your skin, or any other observation you bring to your conscious mind so you can savor it. Don’t walk around oblivious. Notice that I called it a practice. Unfortunately, we have lost the ability to do it naturally because there are so many expectations and distractions to the contrary. Have someone take a picture of you smelling a rose (Thank God they will be blooming here soon. I hope). Post it in your car, at work, or on your mirror as a reminder. Put it on your computer screensaver or phone. I think if you re-train your brain to be mindful, then peace and joy will follow. Give it a try! All we really have is ‘now’.