Are You Awake? Living in the Present Moment

In the present moment, everything is perfect. I have a friend who, when she is stressed or fearful gets quiet and reminds herself that right here, right now, right where she is, everything is fine, she’s safe, protected and cared for.

If you can string enough of those moments together, remembering that truth, then you really can be fine – comforted even – in every moment. All we directly experience is the immediacy of now.

We spend a lot of time thinking about the past and the future, but truly, being present in the moment is the key to successful living – life that isn’t stressful or pressured, but is enjoyed. In the present moment neither the past nor the future actually exists.

It’s over or it hasn’t yet happened. It’s not tangible or touchable or real. Living in the present moment is all we ever do and is all we ever experience. I know that sounds simple, but when you think about it – really focus on it, it’s shocking to realize how much of our time we don’t spend in the present! Buddhism tells us that which clings to the present is the source of all suffering.

Trying to hang on to the ever-changing moment is indeed very difficult, and takes focused practice. It can almost feel like you’re jumping onto a moving freight car, but hanging on to the moving moment can also be dangerous.

Living is the present moment means that we must our focus our attention on what is actually happening right now, whatever that is. It means letting go of perceived outcomes or imaginings and worry about what’s to come. Not easy, I know. It means expanding present awareness to include what is happening outside of our body, inside our mind, and within our body all at the same time. It’s why it’s a lifelong endeavor. It’s something you must decide to do, and then you must practice. Even as you get better, you’ll still need to practice. Coming back. Centering your mind on the present.

Trusting that in that very moment you are safe, secure, protected… It means to deliberately respond to current perceptions without cluttering them up with past memories or future anticipations. Acknowledge them, of course – they exist and are real. But don’t let them dictate your experience. Realize that only in this external moment, the possibility for life improvement and perfection exists. And, since this moment is all that’s available to us, we can be perfect, experience perfection, one second, one minute, one hour at a time.

Don’t pressure yourself and expect to experience it all the time at first. Settle – enjoy – love one moment of being in the present. Right now. Just now. Practice this experience. Notice the details of the sights, sounds, smells and sensations while you wash the dishes, or drive your car, or get ready for work. As you talk to people and move through your day.

Slow down and notice the colors, smells, physical feel, emotions and beauty of everyday living. Those moments are rich; those moments are filled with peace and happiness. Those moments are truly all we have.