I’ve learned that being in the present moment is not easy! This is because the present moment is what your heart focuses upon, while your ego-mind wants to stay busy focusing on the past and the future.
Typically, in each moment a person is either replaying an event form his past, or planning something for the future. Very little time is spent feeling/observing the present moment and the feelings that are there.
But today I was struck with this thought: if I’m busy planning my future so that it is pleasurable, but then when it gets here I’m off in my head planning the next day’s ‘future’, then I’m planning for a pleasurable future that I’ll miss anyway!
When will I be “done” planning so that I can actually enjoy each day?
Being in the present moment seems to involve pausing. Pausing means “doing nothing”, which to my ears sounds like “WASTING TIME”, which is practically a crime in our culture.
I know that there are many cultures that encourage people to pause throughout the day for prayer. It seems wise to take a moment to feel how your day is actually unfolding before jumping back into activity.
I don’t live in a culture that encourages me to pause in the midst of a busy day, so I’m having to create this habit for myself. Two or three times a day I pause – especially when I notice myself reacting to something in a disproportionate way.
I try to ask myself “What am I feeling?” And then (perhaps the more important question) I ask myself “And what is the feeling underneath that feeling that I’ve just described?” Usually the culprit is a reaction to something from the past – be it 15 minutes ago or 15 years ago – that I didn’t feel and handle in that moment. And so here it is resurfacing, sparking an old fear that is driving my neurotic behavior.
I always thought that my Buddhist teachers were encouraging all of us to be in the present so that we would slow down and be peaceful in that moment. But now I understand that by being present right now I also create more happiness for my future, as items that feel painful can be dealt with as they come up instead of later when they re-surface in a distorted way.
So, I vote for a 2 minute break right now to feel how your day is going. Feel the quality of your relationships – including the relationship that you have with yourself. How are you treating yourself today? How are you actually feeling right now?