Happy new year everyone… My resolution this year is to get us to have more fulfilling lives, one of them is not to allow life pass us by, by enjoying the gift of the now,” the present …..”
We often talk about “living in the present or living in the now”. But what do we really mean by “living in the present moment”? Does that mean that we do not think about the past or the future? But how can we not think about the past or the future? That would not be possible or desirable. For we do need to recollect the past and to plan for the future at times.
This will be a 3 part series in this article I will discuss what present moment is, part 2 will deal with the benefits of living in the present and the finale will be practical ways to live in the present moment…
What does it really mean? “Living in the present”
(1) Taking time to smell the roses
Our lives have been composed of thousands of meaningless moments all strung together.. we rush blindly through the day fall into bed exhausted and wake up the next morning repeating this vicious cycle.. With some stroke of luck, there may be a sprinkling of sacred moments mixed in. I’m sure you can think of a few sacred moments in you r life – your wedding, the birth of your child or children, a reunion with a long lost friend or relative, meeting your soul mate or perhaps a heart stopping moment of connection in the middle of the natural world surrounding you. These are the moments that fully consume us with joy and awe. .. It is during these moments that we are completely present in the moment. We are not thinking about tomorrow or trying to rush through the experience to get to the next. We are fully in the now, and the now is truly amazing. In other words we are taking time to smell the roses.
(2) The illusion of time
The present moment is the only thing where there is no time. It is the point between past and future. It is always there and it is the only point we can access in time. Everything that happens, happens in the present moment. Everything that ever happened and will ever happen can only happen in the present moment. It is impossible for anything to exist outside of it.
Therefore it is obvious, that past and future don’t have a reality on their own. They are just mental concepts in our heads. Past is the thinking of memories while future is the projection ahead. But anything can really happen only in the present moment. Nothing else regarding time really exists in reality. This realization shows that there is no time other than the concept of it. I personally see the perception of time as the perception of change of form. Like how rice is prepared at first its raw, then its cooked and looks different…. . Seeing it like this you could say that there is only one moment in which forms are in constant motion. Even memories stored in our brains are changing forms. In that way you could say that it is not time changing along the world, it is the world of form changing along the one present moment
Actually, being in the moment means being mindfully aware of what is going on right here and now, in our experience, and this includes any thinking we do about the past or future. Much of the time our experience does not have this quality of awareness or mindfulness we do not observe our thoughts. A lot of the time we are like robots, automatically living out habitual patterns of self-pity, anger, wish fulfilment, fear, etc. These habitual tendencies take us over and run our lives for us – without our being able to stand back and decide whether this is what we actually want to be doing. It can be a real shock when we start to realize just how habitual and automatic our lives are, and when we realize how much runaway thinking leads to states of suffering.
When we’re in this robotic state, we’re not mindfully aware of what’s going on. We may know on some level that we’re angry but we probably don’t realize most of the time that we have an option not to be angry. We fantasize without any discernment of whether what we’re thinking about is making us happy or unhappy. And in fact, a lot of the time when we are letting our habits dominate us we are not making ourselves or others happy – often quite the opposite.
The mind is a superb instrument if used rightly. Used wrongly, however, it becomes very destructive. When we are in a situation and have experienced it before we put labels on it, we prejudge and look at it through the mind, the mind projects fears, doubt, pleasure, pain and so on… this happens by having a preconceived idea or a belief we had in the past or self-written scripts of the future …. Same goes with people, we judge, pigeon hole and label before getting even to know them… maybe it’s because of their looks, job, status, money and so on…
Being in the present means having an open mind seeing things for what they are presenting at that particular moment… not an idea of the person or thing you had in the past or projection of the future.. One of the major characteristic of wisdom is seeing everything with a new eye even though you have encountered the situation or met the person before… Remember change is constant … people change, situations change every minute, second….
(5) Knowing the difference between psychological time and clock time
Earlier on I did mention it is impossible not to think about the past and the future, but at what time do we need to apply this mode of thinking, it is by knowing the difference between clock time and psychological time… According to Eckhart Tolle in his book “the power of the now” he said clock time is using time practically like making appointments, setting goals working towards them and learning from the past so we do not repeat the same mistakes. Psychological time is identification with the past and continues compulsive projection into the future…
When living in the present any lesson from the past becomes relevant and is applied now. Any planning as well as working toward achieving a particular goal is done now.
A person who lives in the present moment uses clock time and is free of psychological time…
For example, if you made a mistake in the past and learn from it now, you are using clock time. On the other hand, if you dwell on it mentally, and self-criticism, remorse, or guilt come up, then you are making the mistake into “me” and “mine”: you make it part of your sense of self, and it has become psychological time, which is always linked to a false sense of identity. Non-forgiveness necessarily implies a heavy burden of psychological time.
If you set yourself a goal and work toward it, you are using clock time. You are aware of where you want to go, but you honour and give your fullest attention to the step that you are taking at this moment. If you then become excessively focused on the goal, perhaps because you are seeking happiness, fulfilment, or a more complete sense of self in it, the Now is no longer honoured. It becomes reduced to a mere stepping stone to the future, with no intrinsic value. Clock time then turns into psychological time. Your life’s journey is no longer an adventure, just an obsessive need to arrive, to attain, to “make it.” You no longer see or smell the flowers by the wayside.
Food for thought
“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” ~ Buddha
Watch out for part 2… the benefits of living in the present moment