How to Live Fully In the Present Moment

Published on: June 5, 2014

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Stuck In The Past

“It’s being here now that’s important. There’s no past and there’s no future. Time is a very misleading thing. All there is ever, is the now. We can gain experience from the past, but we can’t relive it; and we can hope for the future, but we don’t know if there is one.” – George Harrison

Your mind fluctuates between a stressful thought about the future while simultaneously recalling a thought from the past. Next minute, you’re caught in a vice-like grip buried between two thoughts which hold you captive. You give hope of staying grounded in the present moment, despite the incessant thoughts. The above scenario is an all too familiar scene in our lives. Our minds are habitually consumed with thinking and analysing, not to mention the accompanying emotions which drive our thought patterns. Living fully in the present moment invites you to draw on your right brain, which is the seat of intuition. The importance of leaning toward right brain thinking allows the integration of our sixth sense; intuition. This faculty or subtle knowledge weaves itself throughout our life, allowing us to reconnect back to the importance of being in the present moment.

You may have heard it said that the past and the future are merely illusions, since they don’t exist in the NOW. So, where are they? The past is a memory, and the future has not yet arrived. We continually replay aspects of our past and bring it into the present moment. Our interactions with others are referenced by our past conditioning, therefore, we are not really present by recalling memories. For instance, if a friend doesn’t return a phone call, you may feel hurt, angry and betrayed even though there may be a logical reason for not calling. We are quick to jump to conclusions that we have been treated unfairly. Similarly, our subconscious thoughts quickly recall our past hurts by creating the accompanying emotions to support the thoughts. This all happens in a split second and we fall victim to our self.

This Moment Is All You Have

“I can feel guilty about the past, apprehensive about the future, but only in the present can I act. The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.” – Abraham Maslow

In order to experience timeless health and wellbeing, it is important to be centred in the present moment. Those who live in the past invite mental stress, which is disguised as regret, fear and anxiety. Similarly, those who are future orientated live with fear, worry and anger since they expect a future which never arrives as planned. A well-known aphorism states that your body is in the present moment, so should your thoughts. This is what I mean when one talks about the mind-body connection; integrating the mind and body so they are in harmony and union with one another. Mind and body cannot be united if your thoughts are anywhere but in the present moment. It is widely accepted that those who live in the past or future surrender their personal power, thus reducing the capacity to create their ideal life circumstances.

Opportunities are lost since they are wishing for things as they used to be or hoping life will unfold in a certain way. Their minds are caught up in a battle, yearning for something more. The future never arrives as we plan or hope for. Therefore, it makes sense to attend to the present moment with deep attentiveness. Whilst it is good for me to espouse the virtues of living in the present moment, it is challenging to keep our attention focussed in the present, since we continually respond to our thoughts. Such thoughts would have you know of your opposition to this moment. These thoughts, in the ego’s form, convince you that the present moment does not live up to what you imagined it to be, so suffering ensues.

Finding Inner Peace

So what can you do about it? How can you live fully in the present? First, learn to witness your thoughts with an open heart and compassion. Many people, upon noticing their thoughts, are out of control respond unkindly. Do not silence your mind since that only agitates it. Witnessing means observing without creating a dialogue to support the thoughts. An effective way to reconnect with oneself and to the present moment is to draw your attention to your breath. Remember earlier I spoke about the mind-body connection? Integrating your thoughts with your body sensations allows you to be present and aware. You shift your attention away from the incessant thoughts into your body.

Close your eyes and focus your awareness on your nostrils. Do not allow any other distractions to enter your mind. Focus on breathing in and out for five breaths. Do this as often as you need to throughout the day, when you find yourself stressed for no reason. The practise of mindfulness allows you to reconnect to the present moment. I wrote an article about this. Mindfulness aims to tame the mind through focussed attention. So that a simple act of doing the dishes can be a rewarding experience. Of course, it takes practice and patience to become mindful, yet the rewards are certainly worth it.

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