“What day is it?” asked Pooh.
“It’s today,” squeaked Piglet.
“My favourite day,” said Pooh.
I began the first phase of moving house at the weekend. House moves can be stressful, as many of you might be aware, but it turned out to be the easiest, most enjoyable move I’ve ever been involved in. The secret was being in the moment.
It was helped a lot by my friend, Bryce Redford, who is an NLP master trainer, coach, and hypnotherapist. Sometimes we benefit from a supportive friend who can hold a space of peace even when things get challenging, as Bryce definitely did for me.
We’re moving from Windsor, outside London, to Bridge of Allan, on the outskirts of Stirling, in central Scotland. Bridge of Allan resembles a mini version of Windsor, with stunning views of the Scottish hills, Stirling Castle, and the monument of William Wallace (Braveheart). We’re pretty close to the main airports too, which makes travel really easy.
We got up early to finish packing but we soon realised that things were taking longer than we had hoped. By the time we’d done everything we needed to do, we were already late for picking up the van we’d hired. But this is where being in the moment began.
Rather than rush, my partner Elizabeth said we should have a relaxing breakfast first before rushing out, even though we had to collect the van, empty the house into it, and then make a seven and a half hour drive to Scotland. But committed to the present moment, I relaxed into the breakfast and enjoyed my coffee, determined to be in the moment for the whole day.
Rushing to get the van would be starting off in a hurry and a sure-fire way to cause the rest of the day to follow like that. I sometimes find that how we start the day ripples on through time; beginning in a stressed state seems to colour the rest of the day like that. Obstacles get in the way, stuff breaks, etc. Stopping to have a nice breakfast and some tasty coffee was an act of calm; and just as stress can colour a day, so calm does so also.
As we approached the van hire depot we were an hour behind schedule and I had an intuition that the large van I’d asked for earlier in the week wasn’t available. The large vans were all approximately the same specification but some were larger and some towards the smaller end of the spec. I’d asked for the largest because I figured we’d need it. A small one would never be large enough no matter how efficiently we packed it. When we arrived, my intuition had been correct and the one they offered us was smaller, in no way large enough for all our stuff.
When you’re calm and in the moment it’s much easier to find solutions. We become more resourceful and I also find that little pieces of magic happen. I calmly explained to the receptionist that I had ordered a largest van as I was moving house and politely asked if there was anything she could do. She went in the back to ask the manager. I could overhear them speaking but they concluded that there were just no more large vans.
Bryce was in the moment too. This was when he spotted an even larger van driving into the depot. It didn’t have any of the hire company logo on it, but while I spoke with the manager Bryce went outside and asked the driver if he was returning it after a hire. It turned out that he was. In his typically cheerful, buoyant state, Bryce came back inside and asked if we could have that van instead.
The manager hadn’t seen it arrive but kindly agreed to let us take it. It was even bigger than the one I’d picked out a few days earlier. This one was a Mercedes Sprinter. It was perfect. With hindsight, even the one I’d previously asked for wouldn’t have been large enough. We had needed this one all along.
I’ve noticed that when my attention is in the moment little helpful things are more likely to occur that are even better than my best laid plans. If we hadn’t committed to being ‘in the moment’ but stressed to keep on schedule, we’d have turned up an hour earlier and ended up with a smaller van for sure, which would not have been big enough.
Next we had to fill the van at the house. It took so long, even with the help of our friends Marek and Martina. Our original plan was to have the van packed by around 10.30am/11am, but by the time we’d actually filled the van it was closer to 1.30pm. It’s the small things that take longest. We still had the seven and a half hour drive ahead of us.
Being in the moment, I’d enjoyed emptying the house into the van. I’d viewed it as a challenge – packing the van efficiently – and walking up and down the stairs a hundred of so times carrying furniture and boxes as good exercise.
When we were done, I decided to have a shower to freshen up. It was 25 degrees so everyone was really hot. But even after my shower, I found myself sitting calmly on the floor, in no hurry whatsoever, but just enjoying the moment.
I wasn’t at all thinking about the drive we needed to make, nor how long it had taken us to fill the van and that we were now around 3 hours behind ‘schedule’. I just felt calm, at peace. That’s when we decided to walk into town and have some lunch rather than set off right away.
In the moment we were feeling hungry and could do with a pleasant rest. We had a lovely lunch in a nice little café and finally set off on the drive at around 2.45pm, now about 4 hours later than planned. The outcome of focusing on the moment, I find, is that I find it easier to feel relaxed and calm. The more we practice it, the easier it gets.
There was no stress, no concern about how we might possibly feel tired during the long drive ahead, especially after lifting heavy boxes and furniture all morning. I was just aware of a calm, relaxed, and happy internal feeling. Bryce was the same and it made us feel energised during the drive rather than tired.
The drive was easy and the time just flew past. At the other end, my mum, two of my sisters, and my nephews Ryan and Jake were all waiting to help unload the van at around 10pm. Amazingly, we did it all in about 25 minutes.
The whole day for me was a nice reminder of how things can work out when we’re not stressing about stuff, when we commit to being in the moment and just taking one step at a time, attending to whatever is turning up in each moment.
It reminded me of a conversation I had with my friend Bruce while we walked the Inca Trail in Peru a few years ago. As we emerged from the cloud forest, up above the canopy of trees, I asked Bruce where we were. He replied, “We’re here.” Then I asked him what time it was. He replied, “It’s now!” He then said, “You’re here and the time is now!”
I think if we remember this it helps us to take one step at a time and not fret too much about what lies ahead or what has just been, but just attend to what’s happening now, where you are now.
I find that doing this we experience more of the present and are able to spot the magic and connections all around us that we ordinarily miss while our attention is directed elsewhere.
Copyright 2019 David R. Hamilton PhD.