Look! It’s now!
There is, among others, a commonality in the teachings of Buddhism, meditation, positive affirmation, and living a joyous life–being present in the moment. This is such a simple and direct route to happiness, but so very hard for many of us to achieve.
Do you look back on certain moments and think about how you may have enjoyed them if only you would have been in a different mind state, if only you wouldn’t have been grumpy or worrying about something you had no control over anyways? Me too. That’s why I am practicing the simple habit of staying present. Being here. Feeling rather than thinking (And I’m sure good at thinking about every damn thing). This allows us to step back and see ourselves react.
We’ve been given the gift to observe time, to feel time passing and be living creatures that can experience wonderful sites, smells, tastes, feelings, and sounds. When we let our minds wander, we are taking ourselves out of everything we have been given in this life. Take an outsiders look at your thoughts–how often are your thoughts surrounding a particular worry about the future (when can I be happy, what do I need to do tomorrow, how fun is this future event going to be)? How often do you think about the past (fond memories, missing someone, regrets about something you said or did)? Where exactly do these thoughts get you? Not far. It’s one thing to have future goals and aspirations, and to strive for or look for your passion. It is an entirely other thing to over-think the outcome of it all. We have to remember that while we have much control over our own happiness and well-being, the fine tuned details of the way our life will play out is not entirely up to us. To worry about the things we cannot control serves us absolutely no purpose, and only brings misery. The problem isn’t going to disapear if you worry about it–on the contrary, it will most likely be made worse.
You’ve heard about positive affirmation and the law of attraction, I’m sure. If you’ve practiced it yourself, or have done any reading about how the mind works, you’re already aware of just how powerful our minds are. If you focus in on the negative, than that is exactly what will happen to you. When we get into the present moment, we become more aware of our thoughts, which gives us the ability to watch them, to see where they start and what road they go down, to see where they take us and what bad habits they form in our outward personality. This can be a great tool in eliminating negative thought patterns and replacing them with a positive, calm outlook.
When we over-react to what life throws at us, we are thinking about it too much. To get in the habit of the present moment is to get into the habit of accepting each moment for all that it is, and understand that it cannot be any other way. Accept the anger, guilt, sadness, happiness, joy, bliss. Just don’t dwell; don’t become attached to the thoughts you are producing. I don’t know about you, but I would like to be travelling along with my mind as much as possible without contaminating it with thoughts that serve me no purpose. As I’ve said before, life is just a ride, so best thing to do is enjoy it and not wait until we get all of our cards in place. Chances are, we will always be missing a card.
Staying focused and attentive also creates clarity, which tends to make one more calm. Think about it; what fear could you possibly have when the past is no longer an issue and the present is yet to be discovered? There is nothing to base judgement on that moment. There is nothing to fear. Living in the present moment brings us closer to our feelings, which creates much more pleasurable and joyous experiences where there could have been misery. Misery is easy to come by, but just as easily comes happiness. Focus on what you feel,what you hear, the feeling of the air, the atmosphere, what you see, the color and texture of things around you. When we don’t label or judge our thoughts, we can simply allow them to be as they are, as pure truth. In my opinion, this let’s us let go of the reality we know just a bit, or at least the way we have been conditioned to see it.
Reality is a hard thing to let go of. But what is reality? Is it your home and money? Is it your friends, the people you love? We think this world we are living in is reality, but that’s just an assumption. We are making reality. Thoughts are everything that keep us grounded to reality. Without labeling and identifying there is no ego personality. We don’t focus in because we think we are going to miss out. But not focusing in IS missing out. We’ve become too accustomed to our minds living in the past and future, and society pushes this veiw. Wash, rinse, repeat.
I am a thinker. I’m constantly curious about myself, and what it means to be alive. I especially enjoy learning about how our minds work, why our brains do the things they do, and how we can use that knowledge to better ourselves and our world. One time, I went on a trip. For the most part, I stayed in my house and hung out at the neighbors, but I happened to take psychedelic mushrooms and went on a “trip” for the first time. For a large part of the trip, I would say the first one and a half hours, I struggled GREATLY with the fact that I couldn’t formulate complete thoughts. I wanted to analyze the drug, what it was doing to my mind and how my mind was relating to the outside world, but I couldn’t do it. Nothing made sense. Not a single thing. I was having a very very hard time letting go of reality and accepting the fact that thought was not something I was going to be able to grasp in a way I was used to for a good 5 hours to come. I had to think about what was being said to me for a full minute before becoming frustrated and giving up. I couldn’t understand what my mind was doing or seeing, it caused my motor functions to be thrown out the window. Communication became extremely difficult. Decision making was just as hard. I was keeping myself from enjoying the trip because I couldn’t put anything I was experiencing into words. I had to remember that words are just a way to make sense of my reality, and on this drug, my reality was nowhere to be found. Once I accepted this, I became one with ‘pure experience’. I turned myself in to my senses. The true nature of the things around me– especially trees, plants and animals– came flooding to me. The trees became more alive (and quite humorous). Thier personality and character shined brightly through. The level of interest in the simplest of things became inherent, while I fully explored every aspect of one single thing at a time. It was somewhat like being a baby, experiencing the world through sight and sound without the ability to label and make sense of it all with words. There was nothing I could do to label the actions I was taking or the things I was seeing, because the things I saw have no base in our current reality. In this way, is a psychedelic world more real than the material world? Think about it; we use labels to make sense of things, but we are truly “making up” our world. We have decided what things mean and what things are, but when you are on shrooms you somewhat loose the capacity to do this, turning your being into pure sensory experience. You just..are. Nothing gets more real than just being and feeling, without thought getting in the way.
So what improves when you live in the present moment? Well, art for one thing. Do you notice how art can never take the shape of your preconceived ideas? The more perfection you strive for, the more to try to produce exactly what you have in your mind, the less it comes out how you want. It seems forced, and at least for me, it’s usually quite lacking. It comes from someone else instead of myself, it’s not mine; it belongs to my thoughts. But coming from emptiness and truth, art flows with the universe and as the universe. It has no preconceptions of what it might or must be. It just evolves, takes shape freely and honestly as itself. It should show our lives and our ever-present being, feeling no demands or expectations.
This goes for planned events, also. Planning an event, or spending copious amounts of time thinking about the event (or anything in the future) not only takes you away from the present moment, but sets an imaginary standard for moments yet to come. The best events are unplanned, or at the very least, they hold no expectations of the outcome.
When in the present, every moment seems more full, more lively. We are immersed in truth and love when practicing being in it. So be in it.
How many times did you think about something else relating to your past or future while reading this article? Probably as many times as I did while writing it. Practice makes perfect 🙂
Stop waiting for the perfect moment, it’s already here.