Listening time 5:25
“The next message you need is always right where you are” ~ Ram Dass
Living in the now means that our total focus, thoughts, attention and feelings are directed on the current moment and task. While the technique for staying in the moment is a simple, learning to be present is not always easy. Like most new habits we want to develop, it requires practice. One of my favorite quotes on practice is by Alexander Liebermann, “Practice makes permanent”. The regular daily practice of being present minded and staying in the moment will help you to incorporate the habit of living in the now into your regular way of experiencing life.
Being present allows you to experience the fullness of life’s every moment. Most often our mind is drifting off to reflect on past events or imagining and worrying about future events or both.
Looking back on past events can bring us happiness, provided the past events were joyful ones and we recognize that THIS is the moment we are choosing to reflect on memories, rather than attempting to re-live a past time or trying to change past events.
Looking ahead to the future can also bring us happiness, if the vision we paint in our mind is one of joy, success and accomplishment of our goals. On the other hand, if we look to the future worrying about possible hardships, problems and worst case scenarios, we are giving our precious living in the now energy to solving issues that don’t exist and may never happen.
Life is filled with challenges to overcome but by staying in the present moment and living in the now, we have the focus and mental clarity to deal with whatever comes our way.
If we allow our attention to drift into worrying about how this will impact the future and considering the many possible impending disasters, we won’t have the capacity to effectively deal with the issue at hand.
Since the past is the past and can’t be relived, and the future has not yet occurred and so cannot be lived, the present moment is all we have. When we are focused on the present moment, we are okay, we can handle THIS moment no matter what might be happening – no matter how difficult, because we’re living in the now.
Time is a human concept that we have conceived for the purpose of communicating and coordinating effectively with others. It is an artificial mechanism that we have come to accept as a genuine measurement of our life experience, but the actual existence of time (in the way we think of time) itself is argued by scientists and physicists. We are so indoctrinated into the concept of time that we have created, that we have difficulty even accepting the perspective of living in the now.
The Habit of Being Present
What are we thinking about? Often our mind will wander into places we wouldn’t consciously choose to travel. Before we know it, we’re remembering events that annoyed or upset us, bringing those events into our present moment. Or, our minds are racing off into the future worrying about some non-existent possibility, even though at the present moment, nothing’s wrong and we’re just fine where we are. Becoming aware of when our thoughts are escaping into unwanted terrain and bringing them back to the task at hand is the first step in building the new habit of living in the NOW.
One way to bring our thoughts back to the present is to draw our attention to the sounds, sights, smells, sensations and flavors in our present moment. How often do we eat a meal and don’t savor the taste because instead of enjoying our meal we’re thinking of something else.
Really listening to people when we’re having a conversation (rather than listening to our own thoughts), keeps us living in the moment. Giving our full focus and attention to what someone is saying engages us in the moment. So often we find that we’re thinking about something else or thinking of what we are going to say next while we’re having a conversation, rather than giving our attention to the speaker.
We often spend our present moment time making lists in our mind as we try to keep track of thoughts, tasks and concerns. Keeping a piece of paper and pen handy so we can jot down these thoughts as they occur to us, allows us to free our minds of future concerns and return to living in the now.
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