Lately I have thought about living in the present moment. A few nights ago I was giving a workshop on mediation and relaxation. I could not help but recognize that living in the present moment is a hard task.
Like most people I live a 21st century lifestyle. I am connected to technology 24/7. Well-educated. And my brain is always on. I hunger to learn and find myself lost at times in the galaxy of information that is the worldwide web. I have noticed there are periods in my life when things do not make sense despite innovations in technology that have made finding answers to my problems easier. What I have come to realize is that i feel the most stressed and inauthentic when I do not live in the present moment.
Leo Tolstoy once said, “Remember then: there is only one time that is important – NOW! It is the most important time because it is the only time we have any power.”
Why is living in the present moment a struggle? Since childhood society conditions us to think of our futuristic success. The most influential figures in a child’s life, mom and dad, plant the seeds of living in the future from childhood.
Think back to your childhood for a second.
Do you remember people asking you, “What do you want to be when you grow older?”
Get the picture?
In the shuffle to become successful citizens of the world we lose something in the process that is the ability to live in the present moment. I can remember my parents telling me to shoot for the stars and make the world my oyster.
What does it all mean?
Explicitly, the expression encourages us to pursue our dreams. Implicitly, however, we are told to acquire money, and gain jobs that will secure us economic security. In our materialistic society, human beings are measured in dollars and cents, also called “success”. According to our societal standards owning a flat screen television, vacation house, new care, or computer is a status symbol of a successful person.
It seems illogical for society to equate material possessions to the worth of individual human beings. Life is more than materialism. Neither one’s possessions nor one’s self-will live into eternity. We are finite human beings.
Often we neglect the present moment – living in the here and now. I know I am guilty of this quite often. Religious traditions from Buddhism to Christianity teach about living in the present moment so where and when did we lose our awareness of it?
It is time that we reclaim the present for our sake and humanity’s.
What ever happened to the days of one on one conversations? Text messages, Mp3 players, and social networking sites have cut humanity from authentic human interaction. To become more aware of the present moment necessitates that we make certain sacrifices and make a conscious effort.
In my experience what allows me to live more fully in the present moment is to ask myself these three questions:
- What do I see, smell, touch, or sense?
- What do I think?
- What do I feel?
If I cannot answer these questions, I know I am living on automatic pilot mode.
What I have learned through trial and error is to practice a form of mediation every day. It could be a simple diaphragmatic breathing exercise, mindful eating, mindfulness in thoughts and actions, centering prayer, or yoga that brings me a deeper understanding and awareness of present moment.
I take pause everyday to sit outside to enjoy the natural world that surrounds me and/or the company of solid friends who support and encourage me to be an authentic human being.
I leave you with two questions to consider as you finish reading this post.
How do you want to live your life? On automatic pilot mode or in awareness of the mystery and beauty that encapsulates you at virtually every minute of the day?
I hope you find peace and comfort where you most need it.