What if I say that – only the present moment is – what is truly real.
Everything else – the past, the future – exists only in our mind.
Our cavemen ancestors like present-day animals could only relate to the present because that is real. Like the tree in front of them or the river next to them. As we evolved, we started living in our minds instead of the present real moment.
We imagined into existence the concepts of money, religion, nations, etc. and of course, it proved to be the turning point for the human race but since we got so caught up in imagination, we forgot what’s real.
The Pain Of The Past
It is rightly said that – past is history – because it is. Those moments can be relived in our mind again a thousand times but it is only that – a figment of our memory.
And memories are very treacherous things. They seem to change with situation, age and mood. We say – those were the good old days – but were they? Basically, glorifying the past to make ourselves feel worse in the present.
Another trap is repeatedly thinking about a bad incident, a mistake, an unpleasant memory, and making ourselves relive the horror in our minds and bodies. All the feelings, sensations, and emotions will be real but it is actually not real – is it?
A lot of times, I catch myself reliving past conversations in my head.
I could have said this? Why did I say this? Why did s/he say that? What did s/he think of me when I said this?
But as much as I replay these conversations on loop – I cannot change them because they are not in the present and the present is the only thing we can change.
However, I can reflect on how I can change the course of a conversation or avoid a mistake when it happens in the present.
Because as I said – the present is the only thing we can change.
The Anxiety Of The Future
Our bodies are rooted firmly in the present but our mind has traveled many days, months, or years ahead and is predicting a bleak future, warning us of the dangers to come or shaming us for failing at something, and all of a sudden we are anxious!
This is the Anxiety Gap. We actually cannot do anything about the future until it becomes our present. And the further away we feel from what we are thinking, the more uncomfortable we are.
There are two ways we can cause suffering to ourselves pertaining to the future.
One is that you want something in the future and you realize that you do not have it right now and get disappointed or angry.
And the other one is when you have a mind movie going on in your head about what could happen and you suffer fear, doubt, and loss much before or many times before the actual event – which may or may not occur.
Another imaginary suffering we endure is during an actual unpleasant event. If we are hurt in the present we are already suffering but we add another layer of future suffering on top of the present.
How long will hurt this last? Will I ever be better? What if this pain comes back again? Will the pain increase tomorrow? Will I survive? Will people think I am weak if I ask for help?
Our perception about the future of the present suffering creates anxiousness and more pain.
The best course is to be in the present and prepare for a better outcome for the future because – the present is the only thing we can change.
The Magic Of the Present
Present moment awareness is consciously creating a present which aligns with our future goals.
This creation of present could be in terms of habits, thoughts, actions, inactions or reflections. Basically focusing on the present and shaping it for the future you want.
Why is it Important?
For peace of mind. Our mind is running/reeling when it delves into the past playing loop or imagines the infinite possibilities of the future. Only staying in the present and making the most of it brings real peace and happiness.
Because only the present moment is real.
Being in the present is a form of meditation. You are connecting to yourself, your energy source, your mind and body and then consciously taking an action/inaction to create a better present tomorrow.
How Can You Be In The Present
Calming your mind may be a tough job but it can be done with practice. Use the following steps as a guide:
By being simply aware of the whereabouts of your thoughts you can get your mind to come back to the present moment. Simply ‘ catch your mind in the act’ and turn it towards the present.
2. Noticing feelings & sensations in the body
Once you have your mind in the present just notice your breath. Feel how you are inhaling and exhaling. Letting your stomach rise and fall as the breaths get deeper.
This will help your attention come closer to the present than running off with the mind somewhere.
Then see if you can feel the energy in your body. Move your body around. Washing hands or rubbings hands, rotating shoulders or neck, or just massaging any part of your body. Movement begets energy and life back to the present.
3. Noticing sounds & space around you
Now notice all the sounds around you. The birds chirping, or cars whizzing by, or even the silence. Sounds help us engage the senses fully in the present.
Now notice the space around you. How this space allows all the objects around you to be. Then notice the light. Identify the source of this light and notice how it falls on different objects and fills up any space in the room.
4. Being Grateful For The Present
Now that we are fully aware of our body and surroundings, let’s consciously think of what is going right in this moment.
Is there anything wrong with this specific moment? What can I be appreciative of at this moment? How can I feel better at this moment?
What can I be thankful for at this moment? And it could just be that you are being able to breathe and be alive.
5. Conscious Thinking
Now that your mind is in a receptive state and much of the chatter is lessened, it is a good time to find a solution or reflect on what is bothering you. But be wary of memory loop and anxiety.
The approach is that what can I do now – in the present – to rectify or move on from this. As the present is the only thing we can change.
Past is yesterday’s present and future is tomorrow’s present. But all we can change is our today and that is our true present (gift)