Our minds are now caught in a virtual web that comprises constant
communication with other people, constant bombardment with
information, constant worrying or thinking about yesterday or tomorrow.
But very rarely is the mind focused on just being in the ‘here-now’.
(Published in the Spiritually Speaking column of The Daily Guardian on October 19, 2020)
The present moment is the only reality. Everything that is happening to you is happening in the “here-now”. Being aware and centred in this current place and time is the only reality and is the true way to happiness. How much of our time have we wasted in pondering about the past or the future? The past is past and the future is not here yet and will never be. The reason that the future will never be here is because it is always something that is unreachable. When tomorrow arrives, it is no longer ‘tomorrow’ but ‘today’. Have you ever planned a vacation and during the days leading up to that vacation felt a kind of anxiety about the days leading up to it?
If you use your present time thinking about the upcoming vacation, then you are not experiencing the present moment effectively. You may not be able to concentrate on your daily tasks because in your mind you are constantly thinking about the upcoming vacation. Eventually the time comes and you go on your vacation and before you even realise it, it is time to go back home. Instead the moments leading up to the trip should have been savoured and enjoyed for what they are.
They are as much a part of your life as the trip itself. In other words, do not ignore or be unmindful of the present by constantly anticipating the events of the future. The “here-now” is the only reality. Time is a precious commodity which is to be cherished, each and every moment of it. Rushing through it either physically or mentally is also wasting it. Each moment is to be experienced for what it is. Even the moments of boredom. For they too shall soon pass. Even the slower moments in life if you are completely present and immersed in them will increase your appreciation of them and relaxation in them.
Focusing elsewhere in time and only thinking about the past or future will lead to anxiety and stress. This will also make you feel perpetually worn out and feeling out of touch with yourself. The cure of this is to constantly remain in the present or the “here-now”. But how can we do that? “Here-now” means being aware and mindful of what is happening at this very moment. We are not distracted by the ruminations of the past or worries about the future but centred in the here and now. All attention is focused on the present moment.
This is the key to being healthy and happy. It fights anxiety, cuts down on worrying and rumination and keeps you grounded and connected to yourself and everything around you. Present moment awareness is the one sure way of having a complete experience. Our minds and thoughts are mostly in a constant state of flux moving from one time to the next—back and forth— past, future, past, past, future, future. Either we spend most of our time thinking about the past or worrying or planning our future. Very rarely is our mind on where we are and what we are doing. In each moment of our lives is a lesson to be learned. Each moment of our lives is a hidden adventure that can be enjoyed.
A great way to experience the “here-now” is to focus and pay attention to our breathing. The simple act of breathing in and out and observing it will bring us to the present moment. This is also the most simple and basic form of meditation and will do wonders to soothe our minds of all worry, stress and anxiety. Being “herenow” through breathing is a great way to anchor us to our reality. Also, many people in today’s world have forgotten the art of simple passive observation. Try this following experiment. While going for a walk or drive turn your brain and your consciousness into purely receiving mode. Eliminate temporarily the transmission mode. This means do not ‘think’ but simply observe.
Suppose you are a passenger in a car. Just look outside the window and observe. No thinking, no worrying, no phones, no communicating but just observing. You will be amazed by the result! Even your daily route to work which you may have travelled hundreds or thousands of times over the years will reveal many surprises unnoticed before. You will see new alleys, lanes, signs, trees, structures and other things never before seen.
If done for enough time you may even hear a Divine inner voice inside you that will point out this truth to you gently. It may say, “I have led you down these paths every day, but you never noticed these things till now.” The observer then realises that though she had travelled on this route perhaps thousands of times earlier, she had never noticed so many of the things she saw that day.
The fact that she could even hear the Divine voice talk to her could also be an indication of the same phenomenon—that sometimes the mind has to be still from the thoughts of yesterday and the hopes or worries of tomorrow and just be in the “here-now”. The Divine voice itself could be calling out to us all the time but perhaps could never be heard because of this same lack of observation of what is. Our minds are now caught in a virtual web that comprises constant communication with other people, constant bombardment with information, constant worrying or thinking about yesterday or tomorrow.
But very rarely is the mind focused on just being in the “herenow”. With all this constant race and pursuit of material things, we forget the simple things. The butterflies and flowers, the leaves swaying in the trees, children playing in the park, the setting sun, the wind blowing through your hair, the joy of seeing a baby laugh or simply to sit in the rear seat of a car and observe the world as it passes by.
There are so many things you will notice if you just look and see. It is not a ‘waste of time’, for at the end of the day, what are we really here in this world for? Sure, it is important to do things also. It is important to work and play and laugh and cry and love and hurt, but it is also very important to process all that information. It is important to feel the moment. It is important to live in the “here-now” and just be! After all, we are all human beings, not human doings.
Prashant Solomon is a Delhi Based author and businessman