Ever since I read The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle, I’ve been fascinated by the notion of the “now.” When I first began exploring this idea, I thought it meant that I should only think about today and let tomorrow take care of itself. The only thing is, as much as I would tell myself to stay in the now when I was facing some challenging situation, I found that I would still be scared, worried or concerned. I wasn’t able to experience any Freedom.

Since I started living in The Freedom Zone, I became aware that the only reason these feelings came up was because I was somewhere in the future—I was thinking about events that hadn’t yet happened and anticipating the worst possible outcomes. With this kind of mental atmosphere, it is easy to feel disempowered.

Last week I had such a moment.

As the day dawned, there were a number of tasks that I had to complete before making a presentation. And, I had very little time to handle everything. As if I didn’t have enough on my plate, out of the blue, something unforeseen presented itself—something that required several complicated steps to complete. Something that I needed to do before making my presentation. My initial reaction was panic. I was overwhelmed. I was concerned. I had no Freedom. Why? Because I didn’t know how I could possibly accomplish everything that needed to be done in such a short time.

Yet, there it was, looming—a deadline that was set, no wiggle room, no way to postpone.

Before I started living in The Freedom Zone, the anxiety I felt would have had me rushing around in a state of total panic. I would have got it done but my state of mind would have been scattered and unfocused. On that morning, I called on myself to be present by simply stating, “Be present, Donna.” With this simple thought, I saw exactly what needed to be done and the most efficient way to handle the projects in front of me. I got help with the more difficult steps and I tackled the other tasks, one by one. I brought a laser-like focus to every activity.

Time seemed to stand still—I felt calm, relaxed and confident.

What I was experiencing reminded me of what athletes describe as being “in the zone”—basketball players feel they can’t miss a basket; golfers are confident they will make that difficult putt; tennis players serve their way out of a Love-40 deficits. I was in the zone, a state of being that began with being aware that the overwhelm I was feeling had more to do with my concerns that I wouldn’t get things done. Realizing the source of my panic was future thinking, I brought constructive thinking to the situation by choosing to be present. This choice allowed me to get everything done powerfully and experience Freedom in the moment.

The next time you feel overwhelmed or anxious, here are a few steps that can help you transform this experience:

Identify the source of concern. Remember that being afraid (except in instances when you are in physical danger) is more than likely related to some future projection, e.g., anticipating a worse case scenario.
Return to the present. Realize that the future does not exist until you are there and bring yourself back to the present moment, e.g., gently tell yourself to be present, take a deep breath.
Keep yourself open. Start where you are and remain open to all possible solutions, e.g., break activities down into simpler steps, take one step at a time, ask for help, etc.
How do you handle overwhelming situations? We invite you to share your experiences in the comment box below.