Living in the present moment is actually an art. Many of us TRY to live in the present moment, but sometimes we think that the present is slipping by, right in front of our eyes and there seems to be nothing that could be done about it. We just, at times, simply sit in a corner and feel totally helpless about us not being able to hold onto this present moment.
This is exactly like holding sand in a fist. The more you try to hold it together, the faster it will slip by. So, the basic idea to understand here is that whatever we are trying to hold is actually not the present but the past. The thing that you can’t hold is the PRESENT.
We want to elongate the present when the time is good because we think that doing so can make us happier. And this is precisely the problem. We try to live in the present moment– what we don’t understand is that we don’t need to try, we already are in the present. It’s like whenever we try to be cool or try to be happy, we are everything but that.
Similarly, here as well, we think we need to try to live in the moment. But ask yourselves, can you live in the past? Can you live in the future? Well, physically we cannot as of now.
Why are you unable to live in the present moment?
Well, it’s straightforward.
You are either lost in what happened to you in the past or are busy imagining what’s gonna happen in the future. Now, here too, there are two categories of people.
The first kind is the kind of people who are focused on the ‘bad’. They will either talk about the screwups, the failures, the mistakes they did in the past and are gonna keep regretting it; or they talk about what could possibly go wrong in the future and keep worrying about it.
The other category of people is more focused on the ‘good’. They will either talk about the past’s success, victories, and achievements or will dream about the goals that they are gonna fulfill in the future.
Both of the scenarios suck. It doesn’t matter whether you are focusing on the good or the bad, what matters is, in either of the situations, you are in a dream world and are missing out on everything the present moment has to offer.
You don’t have time
Human nature is that we only value the things we don’t have and overlook the things we do. And for some reason, we have been living in the delusion that we have loads of time, because of which we tend to take it for granted.
We have to remind ourselves of the fact that our time on this planet is utterly limited. So, it’s not exactly prudent to waste it away over menial things.
Imagine if you had only 1 year left to live. Would you waste any more seconds thinking about what the people will say, or remembering about the past, or daydreaming about the future?
Well, of course not. You will come closer to what actually matters and push everything else down the bin.
We think death is far far away, which is why we keep postponing our lives. But the reality is that the closer you come to death, the more alive you’d feel.
A rainbow brings joy when seen because we know it’s gonna go away. If you’d know that it’s gonna stay forever, it will lose its value and people would simply just start ignoring it as well, like they ignore life.
So, don’t postpone life thinking that you have time.
Read this article to see the pictorial representation of how much time you are actually left with.
Living in the Present is Like Flowing with the River
The Present is like a flowing river, that doesn’t have to be held on to. One just has to flow along with it. Stagnant water breeds mosquitoes and smells awfully bad. You don’t need to stop a flowing river, just take a dip.
Life is similar to this river. We don’t have to stop and disturb the flow of the river; we just have to enjoy each and every moment to its fullest as every breath is a gift one should embrace.
Now some of you must be wondering that if we should always remain in the present, then should we stop reminiscing all the past moments, the good old days?
Well, if someone keeps on recalling his past moments, then that means his present life is not as exciting as it used to be and has become dull and boring which is why he has to rely on the past to make his present a tad better.
Think about it, if your present is better than the past, then will you ever ponder or recollect your memories? That’s a no-brainer.
Let’s say it is your wedding day and you are pretty excited about it. So, will you now start remembering the first fabulous date you had 2 years back or will you enjoy the moment that is right in front of you?
If your college days are better than your school days, then there is no chance in hell that you will reminisce about your school days.
The goal should be to put your energy and all your focus to make this particular moment so wonderful and awesome that it makes you forget your past.
Most of us are either living in the past, “Ahhh those were the days”, or in the future, “10 years from now my life will be awesome.” What we never do is ask ourselves “how to make the most of the present moment that we have right here?”.
You must have heard of the saying, “Today’s a gift of God, that is why it is called the Present.” So why don’t we unpack this gift and see what it contains for us? Every second is a new gift, a new present; so, let’s make this gift worthwhile.
To Live in the Present Moment Effortlessly should be the Goal
No more wandering in the past or the future without your permission. This means that it should be in your control to take lessons from the past and imagine the future whenever necessary.
The past and the future should not control you, as they do now. If you observe carefully, every phase of your life has some pros and cons. But what we do is that we just remember the positives of the past and compare them with the negatives of the present which makes us miserable.
Most people say that ‘school time was the best time of their lives’, ‘there’s nothing like the good old school days.’ But was it actually what they say it is? When you were in school you wanted to go into college and be done with it as soon as possible.
So why do we lie to ourselves once we grow up? If someone sends you back to school, then you may enjoy it for a day or two but on the third day, you will surely miss the life you had and would wanna go back as soon as possible.
We have actually batched things up. Some of those good moments we had in the past keep on repeating themselves in a loop, making us remember how dull our present life has become.
But we all know that it is not the whole truth. We have barely fragmented our memories into good and bad—ignoring the bad and clutching to the good ones which is precisely why we are unable to live in the present moment sometimes.
Life is not to be lived in fragments. It is much much bigger than a few good moments.
Tp Live in the Present Moment, Stop Living in Fragments
Whenever we see things in isolation, we either grab that one little thing that didn’t go as anticipated which makes our mind restless and ignore the infinite things that went right,
We hold on to a few good things that happened in the past to make us realize why our present sucks. This is basically stealing away the golden opportunity from our present which always has the potential to be a lot better than our past.
The intelligent way to deal with this predicament is to realize the fact that in the past you had some good and bad moments, and this is how it is gonna be in the future as well.
There will always be good people and bad people, good situations and bad situations, good relations and bad relations, good decisions and bad decisions, good and bad of everything.
This is the gospel truth. That’s how life is. They both are complementary to each other and one can’t have it both ways. If you squeeze a lemon, you gotta deal with the lemon seeds too.
Moreover, one can’t actually live in the past or the future even if he wants to. There is no choice here. If you have no other choice but to live in the moment, then you might as well live it to its fullest. Common sense, right? And this moment is not going anywhere.
Even after 2 years, the moment then will bring with it a different gift that will be the beginning of something new. If you start seeing things this way, then you can be actually free from the past and the future, and you will always be in the present.
A Layer Deeper
Ever wondered, what’s the biggest difference between a child and a grown-up? Keeping aside all the physical and mental differences, there is something else too that differentiates a child from an adult.
It’s all in this three-letter word, “EGO”. There is no sense of “I” in kids. This “I” is nothing but a pile of one’s past experiences. Right from childhood up until now, we all have a bunch of beliefs and have formed up a story, and have associated ourselves with it pretty strongly, which is the base of “I” or “ego”.
This is the reason which is keeping us from living our lives to their fullest and making us not able to live in the present. All the fears we have are because of this only. Let me explain how.
What if, hypothetically, I wipe your entire past with a snap of my fingers? What’s gonna happen? Won’t every problem you have currently will just vanish all of a sudden? (keeping aside the health issues)
You’d be like a newborn baby, just physically grown up. There will be practically no way to make you sad or gloomy. Everything will be bliss for you and you will finally be able to actually live in the present moment.
You will see things all around you as it is but won’t have any preconceived notions about them. You will just be. All the problems arise when our brain starts labeling things as ‘right’ or ‘wrong’, ‘good’ or ‘bad’, ‘profit’ or ‘loss’.
We are crushed between the trajectories of good and bad only for our entire lives. The fear of losing something good or the fear of getting something bad. That’s how most of us spend our entire life.
Past is the Mother of Future
If somehow we can free ourselves from this good and bad thing or I should say free ourselves from the past, then we automatically free ourselves from the future too.
It’s actually the past’s memories that give birth to the future in the first place. Just imagine if your memory is completely wiped off and you don’t even know the language.
You will also forget that someone in your childhood made you believe that you are your ‘Body’ or your ‘Name’ and then you wouldn’t even know whether the body you are in is actually yours or someone else’s.
When you are free of this past, and when all your so-called “future plans” based upon your past also disappear, then all that remains is the PRESENT, and all that remains left in this present moment is the real you.
The thing that’s left after your memory is completely wiped off, the thing that’s looking at things through your body, hearing sounds through your body, and feeling all kinds of sensation is the real you. And the real you always live in the present moment.
We all have merely created a smaller sense of our own self in our minds based upon our memories, and based upon the very same memories we live in our own projections and the dreamworld of the future; completely making ourselves incompetent to live in the present moment.
You Can’t Live in the Present Moment Until You Identify the Real You
“I was x,y,z in the past; so I gotta be l,m,n in the future”. The truth is that you are neither what you think you were in the past, nor what you think you should or could be in the future. Your past is like some data stored on a hard disk. Now even though the data is yours, the data is not YOU. There’s a difference.
It’s just like saying that you are actually the reflection you see of yourself in the mirror. The reflection is surely yours, but all the problem arises when you confuse yourself with your reflection.
Similarly, you actually always live in the present moment already and there is no way to physically make you *not* live in the present, but due to our misunderstanding, we go through all kinds of trouble and suffer.
Tell me, you can actually go in the past? Can you foresee the future? Well, as of 2020, time travel hasn’t been made possible. So, technically you always live in the present moment only, but because we have clung to the stories we have formed in our mind, we become our own enemies.
If for some moment, we can break free of all those stories and see and live in the present moment right now, then that’s what’s called self-realization, enlightenment, or nirvana.
Being free from both the greed of achieving something and the fear of losing something is what makes us something worth digging.
How Can One Experience This?
Sit alone for a moment or two at a peaceful place, it can be your home or a bench of a park. Now close your eyes. Things will get a little interesting from here.
I am gonna want you to, hypothetically, bundle all your memories like a pile of notebooks, and sacrifice it to God, Nature, or whatever you believe in. (Don’t worry, it isn’t going to be permanent, just try this for 2 min and see the magic.)
It is because of Nature only, that provided you with the life you have, that you have all those memories in the first place; so you just have to tie up all your memories in a bundle and give it back to its real proprietor.
Take it as a joke or a dare, I don’t care, just do it once. Close your eyes and see what happens. You will reach and feel a world that is beyond everything, a world where you won’t be able to differentiate between You & I, the good & the bad, God & Devotee.
Surely, you will have thoughts, but the thoughts won’t have you. The feeling of abundance will make you full because you will be fully alive in the present moment.
You will see, hear, and feel things without any preconceived notions or beliefs you had, just like a little baby, and you will experience the very basic nature of your consciousness, BLISS.
Now that your mind is absolutely peaceful and pure, you will not be able to see any kind of negativities in others even if you want to, because the truth of the matter is that, all the negativity and positivity is inside us only and not dependent on some external factors.
The more you practice this experience, the more effortless this will become, and the more profound will the experience be eventually.
Also, the basic difference between what we are doing now, and the ultimate enlightenment or liberation is that here we are trying to get rid of the memory, which is only possible for so long. After a while, it will come back and everything will go back to square one.
But when you will completely understand and apply these things diligently and honestly in your life, the memory will still be there, but your attention will automatically come here and you will live in the present moment.
Remember, the goal isn’t to get rid of the memories, it has its own importance which is vital for survival, the goal is to be free from the grip of the memory, which can be harmful.
When you start getting better at this, then the memory will become like a tool for you that will help you in the present moment. And the fun part is that all this will happen on its own. Instead of you trying to look and search through your memories, the memory will automatically come to your rescue.
Steady wisdom is the state of mind where both the loss and gains do not affect an individual. Staying and living in the present moment is what steady wisdom is all about.
You can’t go and change anything in the past, neither can you go and look at your future self, so the wisdom lies in being fully aware of the current scenario and living in the present moment.
I mean, the present is the only option you have got, in fact, you actually don’t have an option. The ‘present’ is all there is and you gotta learn how to live in the present sooner or later to live a calm and peaceful life.
No school, colleges, or institutions teach you about such imperative concepts like these. Spirituality is the one-stop for all your queries about life and the universe.
Bhagavad Gita, Vedas, Upanishads, and other holy scriptures are the ones that can answer and fill that deep void everyone is trying to fill and searching for. And until you learn this, whatever you do in the materialistic world‒ it’s only a matter of time until it becomes a thing of the PAST.
Spirituality is all about living in the present moment. Also, this is the last goal of meditation as well. Even Buddha said that enlightenment is freedom from suffering. And our own attachment from the past or our memories is what basically causes all the suffering.
When our mind looks at the past, but only to laugh at it or learn from it, and not running behind it or trying to get rid of it or getting morose about it, then that’s where you have reached a dangerously awesome level of freedom.
And like I said before, once the attachment from the past becomes a thing of the past itself, the future also stops worrying us because it’s ultimately dependent on it and can’t survive without it.
When our mind finally starts living in the present moment, instead of running behind the past and the future, then that’s when it will start noticing the magic behind everything and beyond.
Because of some past stories, we all have been living under the illusion that we are separate entities and just a speck in this Universe.
But both scientifically and spiritually, we are all connected with each other and how. It is only at the level of our mind that we think we are different from each other and suffer.
The thing that’s seeing through me is the same thing seeing through you. We are all strung together by a single thread and there’s no division of any kind whatsoever.
And once we really understand this, we can experience real peace and happiness. Because now you can see yourself inside everyone and everyone inside you.
If you are depressed you are living in the past.
If you are worried you are living in the future.
If you are at peace you are living in the present!