Being in the Present Moment, Being in the Now
It is known that time is an artificial construct of our linear mind. Because we have space, we have time. The two are inseparable. If I move from one point in space to another, there is an interval before I get to that next point, and that interval is …… time.
Now imagine you were in a higher dimension where there was no time only an Eternal Now. This is hard to grasp, but if that really is the nature of reality and we have a myopic view of it, the concept and practice of Being in the Moment, Being in the Now, is very powerful – for us anyway.
Why make such a big deal of it? Well apart from the known benefit of being more attentive to where you are and what you are doing now, that prevents debilitating worry and eliminates mistakes, there is a profound spiritual reason why you want to be alert to the Now at every waking moment in your day.
Embedded in the fabric of our space/time matrix of our three dimensional reality, we perceive our life to be moving along in a straight line through a bubble where the past is behind us, the present is now, and the future is yet to come. You could say that we are really only manifest from moment to moment. Not yesterday, not tomorrow and not even ten minutes from now.
Imagine you were up in the fifth dimension, outside the limits of space/time and you looked upon the life of a person who lived to a ripe old age. That person’s life would appear somewhat like a tapestry.
For the benefit of string theorists, we can say, like a string with a start, a length, and an end.
Imagine this tapestry of a life is like a work of art. When you make a stitch you are careful and focused on each stitch because every single one is important to the whole work. If you lost concentration and let your mind wander, you may make a bad stitch. If you did this too often, your tapestry would not look as beautiful and would be flawed.
This is important in our lives because no matter what we do in life or what our ambitions are, the only control we have over a direction and outcome is what we can do in the present moment. So to get the best out of life, to make the most of living, and to live as happily as possible, it is vital to Be in the Present Moment as often as possible.
This is why Buddhists place such importance on ‘mindfulness’. This is a state of active and aware participation in the present.
When you’re mindful, the thoughts and feelings that come and go are observed. This means you do not become those thoughts or emotions. So you go from saying:
‘I am angry’ to ‘I feel anger.’
Now stand back and look at this statement. Isn’t it better to feel anger rather than be angry?
If we are not our thoughts, then what are we?
You could say the I Am Presence. Your thoughts are your mental processes which persist even when you don’t need them at any moment. They are not you because they can be observed, reacted to, rejected or accepted.
Very young children are (by default) in the present moment, and are fully engaged in the now. As they grow into adults, they lose their trust in life, and adopt the attitudes and ways of being and thinking picked up from the adults around them.
Their minds start to habitually drift away from the present moment. This means they lose the ability to be spontaneous and take delight in the little things in life. It really is like a creeping paralysis.
Two great spiritual teachers have this to say about the effects on the psyche from too much ego diversion:
Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry — all forms of fear — are cause by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.
~ Eckhart Tolle
If you are experiencing depression…. you are living in the past.
If you are experiencing anxiety…………you are living in the future.
If you are experiencing peace…………..you are living in the present.
~ Lao Tzu
How to develop the habit of Being In the Present Moment
1. When you are not engaging your brain for some task, take a few seconds to suspend your thoughts, (ie. don’t go along with any that pop in your mind).
2. Tune into your five senses – what do you see now, what do you hear now, what do you smell now, what is touching your skin, what is the taste in your mouth?
You only need to do this exercise for a few seconds. The more often you do it during the day, the more alert you will become generally.
Yes, I’ve learned not to argue with my ego, just pretend I’m listening (when I can).
I’ve also learned the difference between expressing an emotion and wallowing in it.