Living in the Present
By Remez Sasson
Living in the present is to be aware of what is happening to you, what you are doing and what you are feeling and thinking. It is being conscious of your thoughts and focusing them on the present. In this way you look at situations as they are, without coloring them with your past experiences. Living in such a way makes it easier to deal with whatever you are doing at the present moment. You see things as they are, without being influenced by fears, anger, desires or attachments.
Next time you catch yourself thinking idly, watch the thoughts that flow through your mind, what are they? Are you trying to relive the past? Maybe you are reassessing past behavior or events? Maybe you are thinking how it would have been if you acted differently. Are you enacting past events in your mind? Even thoughts and daydreams about the future are colored by past experiences.
If your past experiences of relationships were pleasant and positive, that is how you going to think about your future relationships. If the experiences were negative, that is how you are going to visualize your future. It is always the past recreating your life.
You probably think sometimes about what someone told you, how someone treated you, how you did this or that. It is always about the past. You are letting the past captivate you and influence your behavior. Reliving the past is recreating it constantly. You are not letting change enter your life. It is all right to recreate the past if it was pleasant, but why repeat in your mind if it was unpleasant?
There is a story about two friends traveling by train. One was very nervous, restless and full of complaints the whole trip. He was impatient to reach his destination, and disliked every moment of the trip. He did not pay attention to his surroundings, as his mind was full of impatient, restless and grumpy thoughts.
His friend, on the other hand, enjoyed the scenery, drank a cup of coffee, ate a piece of cake and chatted with the other passengers. He enjoyed every moment the trip. He lived in the present moment and made the most of it. On arrival he was fresh and felt good. His friend, as expected, arrived exhausted, tired and unhappy.
It is a matter of the right attitude. Life becomes a happy and enjoyable trip when the attitude toward it and its events is positive, and the present moment is used in the best possible way.
Living in the present means concentrating on what is happening now, enjoying it and making the most of it.
Do you know how many opportunities are missed due to dwelling on the past, instead of seeing and being conscious of what is happening at the present moment? When our mind is elsewhere we behave like robots, and repeat the same mistakes of the past, do the same things, and then complain that our life is dull and uninteresting.
Wake up to the present moment and live in it. The past happened and passed, so what is the use of reliving it? Do you enjoy reliving it? If it is a pleasant experience that's okay. You may wish to relive it and recreate it in your life. But why repeat the same event again, if it was an unhappy one? Why do you repeat something that has caused you pain?
We are usually unaware of the process of thinking that is going on in our heads. We repeat the same thoughts as a matter of habit. They come and we do not resist them. We welcome them even if they are unpleasant. We get used to our thoughts and habits, even if we do not admit it. In this way they become stronger and more powerful. As our minds recreate our past, we find that the present is always the mirror of the past. Then nothing new happens and we complain that life is always the same, that nothing changes. Weird, foolish, tragic and funny at the same time, isn't it?
By being aware of your thoughts and feelings, it becomes easier to be a little more detached. When you are detached you become able to choose how to react to people, events and circumstances, which can save yourself a lot of inconvenience, trouble and embarrassment.
Living in the present means concentrating on what you are doing each moment.
This develops and strengthens your powers of concentration and attention, which among other things, enhance your ability to study and do your work more quickly and efficiently. Concentrating on what you are doing also helps you to make fewer mistakes and conduct yourself and your affairs in a better way.
You become enslaved by thoughts and emotions and lose your freedom by living in the past, and thinking and visualizing events that have already happened. On the other hand, concentrating on the present moment, on what is happening or what you are doing right now, frees you of unnecessary, burdensome and unpleasant thoughts, and you gain peace of mind.
Stop reading for a moment, and remind yourself of several occasions, when you were engrossed in what you were doing, and believe me, there were a lot of these moments. Did you ever read a book and forgot for a while everything else? Were you engrossed in a pleasant movie, enjoying your hobby or eating very delicious food? In these moments you did not think about anything else. You were happy, calm and content and free from obsessing and futile thoughts. You were concentrating on what you were doing. This is the great power and meaning of living in the present.
Remember, the present moment is very brief. It always turns immediately into the past. The future has not happened. Live in the present.
Constant living and awareness of the present develop a new kind of awareness-consciousness. It is awareness of freedom, of being alive, of happiness and joy. You come to realize the peace, calmness, joy and freedom from thoughts that the mystics talk about. You find out experimentally that what they are talking about is nothing mysterious, mystical or out of this life. You find that this is a most natural and positive state.
Refuse to relive the past. Change the videocassette in your mind!
Enjoy the present moment!
Find the positive, good and useful in each moment!