“I have realized that the past and future are real illusions, that they exist in the present, which is what there is and all there is.”
This topic is a hard one! In going through my own personal transformation, this popped up a lot and is still something that I struggle with.
It’s funny because everyone does it without even realizing it. Just go to any coffee shop or restaurant and observe the people around you. How many people are 100% engaged with the others that are around them? Many people are attached to their cell phones, checking their mail or social media? Stuck in the stress from work that day. Worrying about what other people are thinking about them. Stressing about that paper that’s due next week. The list goes on..
But, those examples just scratch the surface of the larger issue. We have forgotten the skill of simply being present. Not just being present with others and giving the situation our full attention, but more importantly being present with OURSELVES.
I know, sounds easy! But, think about it….. How many thoughts about your future or past are bouncing around in that kaleidoscope between your eyes as you read this? Why can’t we focus 100% of our attention on just simply being in the NOW?
I was taught that there are 3 different spheres of thoughts bouncing around in our heads all the time. And, what emotions are attached to each of them;
- Past experiences = ‘Regret’
- Future expectations = ‘Anxiety’
- The present = ‘The only thing that you have control over’
I know that I can’t change the ‘Past.’ I let those experience define my life for a long time. Playing the ‘Victim Role’ seemed to become my daily mantra. It was the easy way out.
The ‘Future’ scared the shit out of me! The ‘Unknown.’ Struggling to come out of this victim role. The place where I felt completely broken, and that my life is as good as it’s ever going to be. It had me stopped in my tracks, and fearful to take any chances for fear that I might get hurt again. I isolated myself out of protection and became stagnant.
At that breaking point I decided to start exercising this practice. I was taught that the ‘Present’ is really all that really matters. This moment right now! This exercise, just like anything else takes time and discipline. Catching yourself moment by moment as your brain tries to bounce around between the 3 spheres. For me, it’s been really eye opening on how often my brain would wander. The dark early mornings lying in bed just thinking. The dinner dates where I’m really not listening.
In trying to master this practice, I have noticed a lot of different things. The simple small things that seemed to go unnoticed before. You begin to actually ‘Hear’ people. You become acutely more sensitive to your own thoughts, emotions and environment. I feel more confident. I actually get the sense or being in control for the first time in a long time. And, it all starts right at this moment, each moment.
We need to remember how to take back control of our own thoughts. We DO have the choice and the power.
“Your life requires your mindful presence in order to live it. Be here now.”