“It’s Like This Now”: A Meditation on Living—and Working—in the Present

By Amy Lemley

We’ve all heard it said that to know where we’re going, we need to know where we are. Too often, however, we fixate on what’s wrong, who failed, and why the future looks bleak.

Stepping back and observing what’s so—the facts of where things stand or what happened—takes presence of mind. In “The Power of Vulnerability,” Bob wrote about an executive he knows who reported that, “when things get intense and he is really stretched, he is more likely than usual to turn to his spiritual training from Buddhism.” I found that interesting—surprising, even. Here was a seasoned executive who chose during times of stress to open himself up and, in his words, “become more vulnerable.” I was intrigued. So when a friend invited me to attend her meditation group, I decided to go.

Now, I am not one to embrace a quiet mind. I tend to forget about my body and follow my runaway thoughts. Ryan wrote about this tendency in “Full-Bodied Work: Put Both Mind and Body into What You Do and Get a Better Result.” I just couldn’t imagine sitting on the floor in the lotus position focusing on my breathing. So I admit I felt nervous about the event.

When I walked in, I was surprised to discover an audience of 60 people, sitting in chairs, not on pillows. It was a diverse and highly accomplished group. I met a local TV host, a published author, and a change management consultant. We spent 30 minutes in guided meditation—gently coached to focus only on our immediate physical experience.

“It’s like this now,” the teacher repeated as she led us to tune in to feeling our feet, our legs, our hands, our arms—and yes, our breathing. I was present, focusing my consciousness not on the ramblings of my “monkey mind,” but on simply being.

Somewhere during that half-hour, a thought crept in. As I’d been coached, I let it flow into my mind and back out again. “It’s like this now,” I had realized, was a familiar place to dwell.

When I am at my best, I see things as they are in the present, without judging, complaining, or wishing they were different. I abandon thoughts like “There’s something wrong here. It shouldn’t be this way.” I look at the status quo. I consider where I would like things to go. And only then do I look backward to see what qualities or actions were absent and should be added to the mix for future success.

It’s like this now. And that’s where to begin.

Bio: As project manager at Lift Consulting, guest blogger Amy Lemley oversees the Reflected Best Self positive feedback collection process. She is co-author of eight books, including Work Makes Me Nervous: Overcome Anxiety and Build the Confidence to Succeed (Wiley, 2010).