There has been a lot of talk about “living in the moment”, “being in the Now”, and I think, for many of us it gets a bit confusing. Does it mean that we forget about the past and not plan ahead for the future? Is that really practical? How do we “be present” in this moment and live our lives reasonably?
In the human realm there are certain realities that one must be concerned about. Especially if you are an adult with a family. Having to budget your finances is a reality if you want to keep a roof over your head, food on the table, and clothes on your back. And those plans have to do with the future; they have nothing to do with having food today. Will you have food tomorrow? How can you be only in the present moment and ensure your family’s good health?
On an individual level it is a bit more simple as there is only you to concern yourself with. But even then, if you are intent on having a career, there is a certain amount of looking ahead that is required. Your actions have consequences, and you want them to move you further along, don’t you? Not repeating past mistakes also becomes important, and we must revisit our pasts to know what to avoid.
So, what does it really mean to “be present”? It does not mean having no dreams and goals for the future, and it does not mean forgetting your history. One gives us steps to take in the moment to get closer to our goals, and the other reminds us why we are where we are in the first place. The future and the past each contribute to our evolution as spiritual beings. But dwelling on either at the expense of being in the Now, is where we go askew. Living in the present moment means that we are acutely aware of ourselves in relation to others and our environment in this minute. We are “being” fully in the moment, but still mindful of our goals and of what brought us to this moment.
So how do we bring ourselves back into the present when we become too preoccupied with what is yet to come and what has already been? Meditation is one way. And when I say meditation, I do not only mean sitting meditation. Meditation can be walking, doing cardio at the gym, sweeping the floor, and creating art. It can be almost anything that focuses you on Now. Going outside in Nature is another way to ground and center yourself, and become present. Listening to music will do it as well. There are probably more ways that can help you that you can think of. Things that you like to do that bring you into yourself and the body. Things that make you aware.
But remember, the human experience means that you will get distracted from time to time; you will ponder your past and dream about the future. That’s okay! It is part of your humanity to do so. So don’t beat yourself up if you aren’t “in the moment” all the time. As a human being, that is just not possible. But practicing it, the same way you would learn any skill, will give you more awareness of when you drift off, and bring you back. Try to awaken to what is. It will help you grow, know yourself better, and understand the human condition in a way that is helpful to others.
For me, being present is not the endgame. Self-awareness is. And perhaps they are both the same thing. But, as I embrace my humanity, I know there will be times that I sit with my past, and times when I fantasize about what can be. It is all OK! Being in the fullness of who we truly are is a reward in itself.
Andie the Faerie