Many gurus talk about the powerful act of being present in the now. Why is it so important and why are so few people able to consistently focus their attention exclusively on the present moment?
Being present in a way is a side effect of a quieted mind. The converse is also true. Paying exclusive attention to the moment at hand forces the mind into silence.
We are born being present. We are in the moment, aware of what our senses are telling us and responding in real time. Of course, we’re still figuring out the data transmitted by our senses, making sense of them. Until we learn a language, however, our opinions on our environment are very basic. We learn what we appreciate and what we don’t. We learn what pleasures our various senses and what doesn’t. We learn what we like and feel safe around and what we don’t.
We don’t think much about anything because we haven’t yet learned the words to create complex opinions.
And, naturally, we gravitate towards those things that feel good and those that don’t, sussing them out in real time. This means that we check every time with every thing whether we are still being pleased or not. Which is why we might shy away from an uncle, for example, who may have been in a better mood yesterday than today.
We could do this because we had a quiet mind. We didn’t think for every second of our waking hours. We paid attention more to what was around us and how we felt about it. But as we learned the language of our elders, we learned that we had to think. We were encouraged to think about the things and people around us. We were encouraged to think the way our elders thought. And, over a short time, we began spending more time in our heads than in our moments.
Where it was once easy to pay attention to virtually everything that was around us, our thoughts began hogging our mental capacity, leaving precious little energy to really take in the world.
The obvious solution is to think less and pay attention to your surroundings more. Engage your senses more. When you look at something, look at it fully. Admire its aesthetic, colour, shape. When you listen to something, listen fully. Hear the nuances, the tonal changes, the varying frequencies of the sounds. When you smell something, smell it fully. Taste fully. Touch fully. Feel fully.
Being present really just means being fully here in the now, fully aware of as much of the environment tickling your sense organs as is possible.
And the only thing that keeps 99% of the world out of their presence are their thoughts about everything but the present.
Your thoughts about what happened yesterday or what didn’t happen or what should happen or what could happen or what will happen. Your opinions about why people do what they do, or what they should be doing, or how they should be doing what you think they should be doing. Everything that you think that is already cemented into an opinion, regardless of whether it is even relevant right now or not, is exactly what prevents you from completely experiencing and appreciating the “right now”.
And, even though for at least a year of our life, we spent more time feeling for good feelings than we thought any words, because most people have been convinced that thinking is more important than feeling good, they don’t even try to think less and are actually suspicious of people who would even suggest that.
Well, you don’t have to believe me when I tell you that thinking less will actually improve your entire life. I’d encourage you to try it tho, if only to prove me wrong.
You won’t know the experience of anything if you don’t try, of course. You get to decide. But if you do want to silence your mind a bit, nothing will help you more than meditation. Simply practice an easy focusing meditation every morning for a few minutes and see for yourself.
When you’re not distracted by the constant mind chatter, you will have the energy to devote to your life as it is unfolding right this second, in real time. You will notice what’s actually happening around you as it happens. You will be aware of the people and even what they’re going through. You will be aware of where you are and what is happening around you in a way that cannot be described.
You’ve probably seen monks and martial artists and athletes in their respective zones, centred, aware, at peace. Their primary focus is on their respective goals. They tune out what is nonessential and laser in on what is important and meaningful to them. They are not only aware of what surrounds them but also aware of what in their environment is worth their energy.
People call this Zen. Being in a state of peace, calmly making choices, deliberately and consciously thinking, speaking, and acting with care and consideration. This is the power of the now. The power comes from the simple act of awareness. The more aware one is of what is available means more power in choosing. Decisions can be made purposefully, taking into account a wider range of variables than if one weren’t as present and aware.
Thinking isn’t the enemy. It’s the incessant thinking that’s problematic. Think less and feel more. Meditate yourself into a state of quietness. Allow your senses to free flow, with no censoring from your automatic opinions. Think about what you’re looking at. And move on. Think about the next thing in your vision. Or just look and think nothing at all.
That’s really the simple secret to the power of the now; being hyper aware of where you are, right here, right now. Like you were as a baby, only as a far more capable and cognitive and focused adult.
And if you find that you are more in your head than an infant, it will serve you and your life journey to practice meditating and quietening that mind again, so you can be fully present again, so you can live your life calmly, deliberately, and purposefully.
The world is a playground, laden with opportunities to experience pretty much whatever we want to experience.
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