School has resumed which leaves my youngest next-door neighbor playing alone outside with their dog. Watching him play, I was aware that he was TOTALLY in the present moment. Toddling around the backyard pointing to this and that, repeating Judd’s name then pausing, looking at him. Then toddling on, pointing at something else, saying “Judd” and ‘listening’ to the silent pup before continuing on. I found myself entranced by this copious-curled blond, twenty-two-month-old carrying on a “conversation” with a five-month-old puppy.
In Unity, we teach children: “There is NO spot where God is not.” I like to imagine this small child was noting God in everything to his companion. However, I’d like to challenge that fact and say that God is NOT everywhere present. In fact there are two places God is not: the past and the future. While God was present when we were living in the past, and God will be present, when we are living in the future, God ONLY exists in the eternal present moment.
The Art Of Simply Being Present
My young neighbor, like most happy, well-adjusted, young children has the gift of being totally present in the moment! I remember during the first weeks of our son’s life, I was simply present in each and every moment. Eating, changing, bathing, dressing the two of us, and simply just BEING, consumed every waking instant; every other moment we slept!
If you’ve experienced newborns, you can probably relate to that experience. Those frozen in time moments and experiences are precious, savored, relished and enjoyed, simply by being present. For me, my life’s present moment experiences include deep spiritual experiences, as well as, commencing and culminating events. Take a few moments to rest in the silence; breathing deeply while allowing a few of your present moment experiences to come to mind. Again, breathe deeply, then draw your attention back to this here and now moment.
Being In The Now Present Moment
Each moment that came to mind was a past PRESENT MOMENT in your life. Moments when you weren’t living in the past or future, moments without regrets, resentments, worry, fear or anxiety. Moments when you were totally present in the time and space of the moment, love and acceptance. That moment of NOW!
The second line of the Lord’s Prayer reads, “Give us this day our daily bread.” Metaphysically, “day” means understanding, and “bread” means universal substance. So for me, that line means: “God, today give me Understanding of my Daily Universal substance.” Or, “Today I understand and remember that I’m connected to the Allness that is God in each and every moment. I know and feel my Oneness with all that is.” That short line is all about being present, just BEING.
In The Joy Of The Moment
Neil Donald Walsch says that “Life has nothing to do with what we are doing, and everything to do with what we are being.” Eckhart Tolle experienced “The Power of Now,” and walked around in a state of total bliss for three years. He tells us that: “The past has no power over the present moment.” We need to “realize deeply that the present moment is all we have. Making the NOW our primary focus in life.”
If we find ourselves waiting on someone, we can complain in our head when the awaited arrives; or, we can enjoy ourselves while in the now moment of their presence. Notice the beauty around us, the weather, and our breath, then truthfully replying, when they apologize for keeping us, that we were just in-joy… “enjoying” the moment.
No Past Regrets, No Future Worries
The greatest, practical application of living in the present moment is being fully available to what is, where our energy and resources are not trapped in regret (the past) nor worry (the future). The most powerful tool in becoming present is MEDITATION. The more often we sink into the silence, the more easily we are able to be present each moment.
In June 2014, the guest blog by Tom Ireland in Scientific American magazine, we learned that mindfulness meditation thins the amygdala. The amygdala is a ganglion of the limbic system adjoining the temporal lobe of the brain and helps fire the emotions of fear and aggression. When the amygdala thins, it increases the function of the prefrontal cortex, which in turn reduces our need to fly into fight or flight (byproducts of past and future thought) and thereby increases our ability to function in the present moment.
Lost Between The Past And The Future
To some degree, we are all unavoidably being pulled into the past or future, because it has become the accepted state of norm in our fast-paced, highly motivated, and highly-strung society. For this reason it is important that we understand that to not be present is to be torn between two worlds, the past and the future, neither of which exist right now. To constantly be pulled out of the present inhibits us from fully enjoying life and finding happiness.
Staying present in our current twenty-first century lives is not easy. There always seems to be something to anticipate and with our lives so well-documented, it’s never been easier to get lost in the past. In today’s wired world, we are all too often deluged with advertisements, digital reminders, notifications, messages and alerts. Each of these and more drive our fast-paced and hectic schedules, which are all too often geared towards the past or the future. So much so, that most of us keep, a base level of anxiety and stress as our norm. We may not even realize it, but this tendency to get sucked into the past or future leaves us perpetually worn out and feeling out of touch with ourselves.
Healing Your Life In The Present Moment
The cure for this condition is what so many people have been saying all along: conscious awareness and a commitment to remain in each “now” moment. Living in the present is backed up by good science. Being present and exerting our ability to be mindful not only makes us happier, it can also help us deal with pain more effectively, reduce our stress, and improve our ability to cope with negative emotions.
When we engage in mindfulness or present moment meditation, we are not ignoring or denying thoughts of the past or future, we are simply choosing not to dwell on them. When we are aware and present, we can’t get caught up in regrets of the past or anxiety about the future. Practicing present moment awareness allows us to revisit our past, or anticipate what is to come without losing ourselves.
So, I invite you to practice present moment awareness in meditation each morning. If you already have a regular meditation practice, I encourage you to increase the time spent. If you don’t already have a morning meditation practice, simply begin with an amount of time you can comfortably allot, even if it only starts as one minute a day. Over time, even one minute of mindful, intentional meditation will strengthen your present moment awareness. Consciously choose to create a slower pace, and a more present awareness of the moments in your life. Doing so, will help you to remember that everything is in perfect, divine order in this “right here, right now present moment.” Besides, “right here, right now” is all there really is.