Nov 18 2014

Laura McDonald,


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Clarity, Living Fully, Mindfulness



“Some people think it’s holding that makes one strong – sometimes it’s letting go.” ~Unknown~

On a recent fall day I was in New York City’s beautiful Central Park teaching my boot-camp class with an amazing group of women. We mix it up with cardio, strength training and yoga and we love being outside. We often close with a relaxation pose, lying on our backs on the ground.

As we got comfortable and opened our hearts towards the sky, we collectively felt a sense of amazement and calm wash over us. We looked up through the green and gold leaf covered branches swaying in the wind, hearing their peaceful hum, and gazed at the deep blue sky sprinkled with dancing, white, puffy clouds. We remarked how incredible this exact moment was, how blessed we were to be right here, right now, and how awe inspiring the simple things in life can be. We talked of childhood and that special feeling you’d get when you’d lay outdoors on your back and stare up at the sky, your heart and mind full of wonder, hope, and the belief that anything is possible.

Then I heard it, a siren in the far distance, it’s intensity slowly building as it came closer to our sacred spot, grinding and groaning and screaming as it made it’s way down the nearby city streets. The searing noise finally came to a crescendo and then began to slowly ebb it’s way towards silence as it traveled farther away to it’s destination. We all remained still as we let it pass through the moment. I was again reminded that we have the power, the choice, to let things “interrupt” our state of mind, or to stay centered within ourselves. After the noise had died down I said, “That siren is like every other barb thrown at us throughout the day, those stressful interruptions that want to take control of the moment and knock us off course. But here we are, just as still and calm as when we started and what a beautiful moment it still is.”

Guess what? We do have a choice. We don’t have to barrel through the day, head down staring at our phones, rushing to get from point A to point B, stressed out with worry about what’s to come or what should have been, letting the “sirens” of life interrupt our flow.

Try any of these ideas to help you let go and be in the moment:

1 )  Take a day-dream break

Get outside and find a yummy lawn, a park bench or the edge of a pond and lie down just like a little kid. Breathe deeply, gaze up at the sky and listen to the sounds of nature around you. What do you see? What do you hear? Notice how the breeze and sun feel on your skin, your heart-beating. How does it feel? Let your mind go and your body relax. Don’t hold onto any thought, let them come and go. Maybe you’ll even doze off for a few minutes, and that’s fine. Let it all go.

2)  Let time be time

Of course we all have schedules we need to stick to, but very often we impose extra stresses on ourselves by fretting over the time. Instead of checking the clock and thinking, “I should have done this already, or I have to do that, or why don’t I get everything done when I’m suppose to?” Let go of what you think time should mean, and try letting the time just be the time. If it’s 4 pm, it’s 4 pm! Realize that every moment of every day offers a fresh start.

3)  Don’t worry about what others think of you 

While you’re worrying about what others think about you, they’re probably worrying about what you think of them. This is destructive and a waste of time and energy and worrying about anything totally sucks the life out of “being in the moment”. Set yourself free from this kind of thinking and embrace who you really are. Step into your unique place in the world, the place only you and no one else occupies, with pride and integrity and live WHO you are right now. Give yourself permission to stop worrying about what others think. Who cares?

4)  Stop drama before it begins 

Once that drama train leaves the station it’s hard to stop it. Make a pledge to yourself to stop drama before it begins, to stay connected to your breath, to remain open and love others and yourself without conditions. When we can appreciate our individual differences, when we can forgive mistakes (including our own!) when we can remain calm and flexible, we also create stronger self-worth and a more powerful connection to being present.

5)  Make friends with the present moment

We sometimes get caught up thinking that if we resist and fight what is in the present moment we can force ourselves into happiness. Most of the time we have no control over our external conditions and fighting it can actually lead to more suffering, stress and anxiety, all taking you farther away from the present moment. So maybe the elevator is taking for ever or the traffic is insane, don’t allow that to ruin your day, especially your inner peace.

Make friends with the present moment, there’s no better place to be.

Laura McDonald is a busy mother of three, a musician, writer, foodie, an ACE certified Personal Trainer and Holistic Health Coach in NYC. She is a contributor and top wellness expert on health and wellness sites such as MindBodyGreen and the Well-Being Network. She loves training her clients and groups outdoors, writing rock songs, working on her yoga skills and creating recipes full of love. Laura is on a mission to help busy men and women of all ages create a leaner, healthier, happier life.

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  • Robin Madsen

    This is beautiful, Laura. The vision of you women lying on your backs, looking up at the sky, “as children often do”, brought to mind the Dishwalla song “Counting Blue Cars”, which evokes memories of my childhood. Maybe the world would be a better place if each of us could take the time to stop, relax, reflect, and just be, if only for a moment. Thank you for this.

    • Laura McDonald

      Hi Robin and thank you for taking the time to comment. I’ll have to listen to the song you mention– and here’s to a few moments to just “be” in the moment. 🙂

  • Sharon Markwell

    I care less and less now what others think of me even though I’ve been told to my face that I’m well liked without solicitation from me.
    My Mom used to be fit to be tied with me as I would start every morning and end every day with listening to music on headphones.
    “Sharon, you’ll be late, get moving!” is what I would always hear. But I still do that to this day, sing along and my own love of and talent for singing was both discovered and nurtured by listening to Paul Williams for literally hours on end, not caring about the world around me. Which is probably why I didn’t enter college until I was in my 30’s. I admit I get worked up waiting for a slow elevator or heavy rush hour traffic.
    But we always know that we’re never alone. And for me, staying away from drama kings and queens is essential for my self-worth as I am learning yet I still love everyone.
    Love this article Laura. All the best to you.

    • Laura McDonald

      Oh Sharon, thank you so much, your comments are lovely. I’m happy you connected to the “fresh start” every moment line. As a child I used to go to the park on the bayou (I’m from Louisiana and even though I’ve been in NYC for years, I’m still a bayou girl at heart) and feed the ducks! One thing I love about singing, whether on your own or along to your favorite songs, is the pureness of it, truly being in the moment. So keep on singing, sister, and keep up the wonderful volunteer work. You are indeed super special and I’m honored you’ve taken the time to stop by this amazing site. ~ Laura

  • Paul Williams

    Laura, I loved this. I could smell the grass remembering those moments on my back, looking for faces in the clouds. My favorite step you list is number four. The ‘don’t let the drama train leave the station’ discipline could make lives easier around the world. Save lives, time and heartache. Once the angry journey has begun it’s potential for damaging increases by the minute. Great advice. I appreciate your contribution to G & T .. Blessings and thanks, Paul

    • Laura McDonald

      Thank you, Paul, for the warm welcome! I totally agree that the “drama train” can be an angry journey. I just came across this quote from Buddha ~”You will not be punished for your anger, you will be punished by your anger”~ Like many things in life it’s a fine line we dance! So happy to be here on G&T and love how you are helping so many people. Peace, health and happiness~ Laura

  • Cathy Goodman

    <3 IT!! "Make friends with the present moment, there's no better place to BE!"

    • Laura McDonald

      Amen, Sister! 🙂 Love you so much! ~ Laura

  • Rose Ivy P

    I’ve made a note of these 5 steps and I will apply one or more each day of the week.

    • Laura McDonald

      So happy to hear, Rose! Thank you so much for taking the time to read and comment. Peace 🙂 ~ Laura

  • Loved this! Thanks…..

    • Laura McDonald

      Thank you, Jim! Peace & Happiness ~ Laura

  • Sharon Markwell

    I love everything about this site

  • Steppie Royes

    I’ve always wondered why the human race came up with the concept of “time” only to complain about it on a daily basis. No matter how much you cram into one day, there is always another day to follow that demands for more things to get done. I’ve done my fair share of worrying about time but as I get older I learn to appreciate and respect it more.

    Anyway, my favorite is the “take a daydream break” step. Daydreaming has been proven to strengthen the mind with creativity and excellent problem solving skills. It does have a calming affect and offers a mini vacation from the craziness around us. My mind has a field day when it’s slow around here.

    Great blog, Laura! And Welcome!

    • Robin Madsen

      I agree Steppie, we must be the only species with the concept of “time”. I mean, creatures and plants know when it’s time to mate, nest, bloom, head south, whatever, but they don’t care whether or not it’s 4 o’clock. If I sit down and relax during the day, I’m apt to nod off, but that’s OK. As you say, it’s a mini vacation. Laura has some good points here, and so do you!