Many people spend their whole lives either re-living what has happened in their past, or worrying about the future. We seem to find it difficult to stay present in the moment, with what is happening now. Yet this is the greatest gift that we can give another person, to be present with them when we are together. This is called quality time. It is what we all long for.
Being present in the now is also a gift we give ourselves. You have heard the quote, “Yesterday’s the past, tomorrow’s the future, but today is a gift. That’s why it’s called the present.” by Bil Keane.
Our life right now IS the gift!
The present is the only place where we can take action. This is the place where life happens and is recorded in our experience. If you do not pay attention, life is over before you have ever really lived. Like Ralph Waldo Emerson said, “We are always getting ready to live, but never living.”
In our earthly existence there are only three possible time frames – past, present or future. When you become conscious of your thoughts, you will begin to become aware of how often your thoughts and feelings are focused in the past or the future. As you focus, call your attention back, return to the present.
It has been said that many people spend less than 1% of their time being fully present. The rest of the time is spent drifting in and out of NOW, as our attention wanders. Your mind may even seem to you to be out of your own control. With some consciousness and practice, you will be able to be present more often. That is when you are TRULY LIVING.
Living in the moment—also called mindfulness—is a state of active, open, intentional attention on the present. When you become mindful, you realize that you are NOT your thoughts; you become an observer of your thoughts from moment to moment without judging them. The goal is to be engaged in your life experience.
One of my wonderful teachers, Miranda McPherson said, “Do not abandon yourself.” It made me realize that by not being mentally and emotionally present in my life as it was happening, I was indeed abandoning myself and not being truly present with others. I vowed to do everything I could to be more present and sit with my thoughts and feelings as they happen.
Cultivating an awareness of the present bestows a host of benefits such as: it reduces stress, boosts immune functioning, reduces chronic pain, lowers blood pressure, and helps patients cope with cancer. Spending time every day actively focusing on living in the moment reduces stress, thus alleviating one of the main causes of disease.
As we bring our awareness into the present moment we become more conscious of our surroundings. We are then fully able to enjoy the beauty and the message of life that is found as the gift in every moment.
So why is it so hard to stay present?
Living in the NOW takes practice. Because many of the thoughts are connected to feelings that make us extremely uncomfortable. Most people avoid being alone with their thoughts. It is amazing what people will do to avoid looking inward. They will do anything to be distracted from the Self.
The basis for this fear of being present is that we think that there is something wrong with us. Either we look back and lament, that we weren’t “good enough;” or we plan ahead, worrying about how we can do things “right” in the future. We are looking to be more perfect, win others’ approval, or to make sure nothing bad happens. This becomes an addictive habit.
Winston Churchill said, “When I look back on all these worries, I remember the story of the old man who said on his deathbed that he had had a lot of trouble in his life, most of which had never happened.”
“People get so in the habit of worry that if you save them from drowning and put them on a bank to dry in the sun with hot chocolate and muffins they wonder whether they are catching a cold.”– John Jay Chapman
The expert on the NOW is Eckhart Tolle, the author of “The Power of Now.” My personal favorite book of his is “A New Earth: Awakening to your Life’s Purpose.” Tolle says to anchor your Consciousness in the body. Taking your attention to the breath helps.
Here is a 10 minute video with the teachings of Eckhart Tolle:
Try being present in the NOW…you’ll like it!