Quote from a wise Buddhist teacher:
Learn to grasp the moment! Do not sneak away;
do not escape to the delusions of the past or the future.
Bring your mind to where you are,
with an acute awareness for the present moment.
This is where we are.
There is no other place than here.
I’ve come to realize that spending a lot of time in the present moment is not easy! This is primarily because the present moment is what the heart focuses upon, while the 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 when I read this quote 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 what shows up?
And if I’m not paying enough attention to my present, then how can I make the adjustments to it that will yield a better tomorrow?
Being in the present moment involves 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 is this day feeling right now?