The Power of Now

I recently purchased the book The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle because I was intrigued by this idea:

Depression is dwelling on the past, anxiety is dwelling on the future, and peace is dwelling on the present.

Maybe you’ve heard something like that before. There is a very similar quote attributed to Lao Tzu, although I’ve heard that it may be questionable who really said it.

But this idea that living in the present moment is the key to peace and happiness has been something I have been pondering for a while.

The premise of Tolle’s book is that depression is experienced because we are dwelling on negative feelings about the past, like regret, guilt, or self-loathing. Anxiety is experienced when we negatively dwell on the future, causing feelings of fear, worry, or dissatisfaction with life in general. True peace and happiness, according to Tolle, comes when we stop living so much in our heads, and take time to be present in the here and now.

There are examples in the Bible that would seem to echo this idea. The Lord’s prayer (Matthew 6:9-13) uses the phrase “give us today our daily bread” (NIV), which could imply that we only need to ask God for things concerning today (we don’t need to ask him for tomorrow’s bread, we just need today’s.) A little later in chapter 6, it says “therefore do not worry about tomorrow, for tomorrow will worry about itself.”

In the book of Exodus, when the Israelites are wandering in the desert, God provides daily food for them – manna and quail (ch. 16). The people are instructed to “go out each day and gather enough for that day.” Anyone who gathered more than a day’s worth found it to be rotting and “full of maggots” by the next morning.

Mindfulness, the practice of being fully present with where we are and what we’re doing, has been gaining popularity in Western culture over the past decade or so, and it also heavily utilizes the present moment, the NOW, to decrease stress and anxiety. Mindfulness meditations typically have you focus on sensations in your body and view your body and thoughts in a non-judgmental way. Headspace, one of my top picks, is a great app to check out for guided mindfulness meditations.

Obviously the idea of there being power in the now is not new or uniquely attributed to one person.

So what does it look like practically to live in the present moment?

Read More »

The Connection Between Your Mental Health and Physical Health

For the past few weeks, I’ve been really tired. Like REALLY tired. I found myself falling asleep on the couch after work – going to bed at 8:30 – coming home in the middle of the day to take naps… It seemed like no matter how much sleep I got, I still felt exhausted. 

I began wondering if something weird was going on. Was I sick? Was I pregnant? Did I have COVID and my only symptom was intense fatigue? 

If you’re a follower of my blog, you’ll notice that in the past three weeks, I haven’t published anything. Not only that, I really didn’t write anything at all those few weeks – not drafts, not personal journaling or anything. I normally try to get up early to have quiet devotional time and to write, but even though I set my alarm to get up early (and had gone to bed at a reasonable hour), I still woke up every day feeling tired and hit the snooze button.

What was going on? 

I have this sweatshirt I purchased recently that says “Mental health is health.” I love it not only because it’s cute and comfortable, but because of the message it broadcasts. Mental health affects our physical health. They are so intricately connected that to really be in a state of health at all, our mental health must be cared for. 

It only takes doing a quick Google search to get thousands of results on the link between mental health and physical health. One of the results I found was from the Hillside Mental Health Facility’s blog, and it described some of the warning signs that a person’s mental health may be negatively shifting, which included:

  • Changes in sleeping and eating patterns
  • Withdrawal from friends, family and activities
  • Loss of energy
  • Increasing irritability and mood swings
  • Loss of performance at school or work

Looking back, I realize now that I was also losing motivation at work, and having increased irritability with members of my family. Basically, I was exhibiting most of these warning signs. 

I should have noticed more of the red flags. I know from past experience that when I’m stressed or overwhelmed, (or when depression might be kicking in), I tend to cope by sleeping. Some people can’t sleep when they’re anxious or stressed, but I tend to start checking out and want to sleep all of the time. 

In the book Try Softer by Aundi Kolber, (one of my top recommended books!) she describes the idea of your “window of tolerance” (WOT). She is referring to our ability to tolerate discomfort, specifically emotional discomfort. All of us have an amount of emotional discomfort or growing pains that we can tolerate – this is our “just right” amount where we won’t be at risk of becoming overwhelmed emotionally and physiologically. But once we hit our limits, we can either go into hyperarousal or hypoarousal. 

Hyperarousal mode feels like being overwhelmed with adrenaline or anger. You are out of control. You may feel the need to be moving (trying to flee whatever stressful event you are experiencing).

Hypoarousal mode causes a person to feel sluggish or depressed. You become disconnected from the world. In a word, numb. 

Read More »

Body Image: My Story – The Good, the Bad, and, of course, the Ugly (pt. 2)

Part of me didn’t want to write part 2 of this series. There are a lot of feelings wrapped up in writing it. Part of me didn’t want to revisit those feelings. Part of me is worried about being judged or made fun of. Maybe you’ll find me extremely shallow and superficial, or perhaps you’ll notice all those flaws that just you didn’t see before.

I know some of these fears are irrational – but despite that, I am still anxious about posting this. I think there is value to doing it – for me as well as for others. In the past, it has been healing for me to write about hard issues, and it has also been healing to share them publicly as well. So, here we go…

This post is dedicated to my struggle with acne – and the scars, both physical and emotional, that it has left me with. 

It all started around junior high – such glorious times, eh? I remember being somewhere around 5th grade when I got my first pimple. It wasn’t a huge deal. It felt more like a right-of-passage to becoming a woman. A few years of some spots here and there, no big deal. 

Unfortunately, it became a much bigger deal. As the years went on, it just got worse and worse. In high school my face was completely covered with acne, hardly a clear inch of skin to be seen. Perhaps it was not really that bad, but in my memories it is. I don’t have many pictures to confirm or deny this either – during those years I avoided pictures like the plague. Thank goodness selfies didn’t exist back then!

To my dismay, almost everything I tried made no difference to my skin. You name it I probably tried it. 

Proactive? Yes – and it burned so bad that I had to stop using it!

Over the counter medicines? – Salicylic acid (check!), benzoyl peroxide (check!)… made no difference. 

Prescribed antibiotics? – those tetracyclines did nothing for my skin.

Birth control (the pill)? – yep, started on it during high school and it also made no difference. 

The waiting was always the hardest. You’d go to the dermatologist and they’d be like, “well, let’s try this (insert whatever new medicine you like) now. Come back and see me in 2 weeks.” So then you’d wait the 2 weeks, hoping and praying that this would FINALLY be the miracle-working medicine you’d been hoping for… and 2 weeks later the doctor would be wracking her brain again to think of what else to try. 

Read More »