Much has been written and spoken of in the ‘new thought’ movement about being present in the moment. Of course there is much wisdom in such a concept especially because we have a powerful tendency not to do so.
Our minds seem to automatically dwell on past problems or race uncontrollably into future scenarios which are similarly painful and frightening. So, therefore, an effort to "over-correct" such mind states by attempting to focus on being present in the moment does make sense.
And the truth is: the present is the only moment that truly exists anyway. Of course there are reasons to remember the past. We can learn from our mistakes and under such circumstances, it is totally reasonable to recall past difficulties.
Likewise, we all need to make plans, arrangements and to visualize a path into the future which will bring us freedom and happiness.
What we need to avoid is the obsessional relationship with the past and present.
But my main point in this posting is how to manage horrendous situations which confront us in the course of our lives. These occur to patients of mine under specific circumstances in which I must reveal, for example, that they are suffering from cancer. I will often have to do so with the loved-one of a patient as well.
Often the shock of this revelation renders the patient/family speechless and helpless. They look to me for some advice and recommendations.
My response is this: look to the next moment, only. Plan your next move, step, response without projecting any further into the past or future.
I am essentially recommending that they NOT be present in the moment. But focus on the NEXT MOMENT. The present moment is too painful and perhaps incapacitating.
They need to only look one step forward. Where to go for medical opinions, which hospital to seek, how to notify others….. These become the small next steps which can rally their strength and courage for the fight ahead.
Projecting backwards in recrimination is useless. They must not regret having delayed their own work-up or diagnosis. They cannot undo what has occurred.
Likewise, to project into a dark future will cause them to suffer in the present. It may block them from moving forward with the necessary vigor and clear-thinking that is necessary.
Some individuals are capable of truly ‘sitting’ with their fear,in the present moment. Perhaps that is the optimal way of getting through the difficult times. Many of these individuals are adept at meditation or relaxation techniques.
But for the vast majority of others–set your sights on the NEXT MOMENT. It will open a path towards healing.