1. The quality or state of being conscious or aware of something.
2. The practice of maintaining a nonjudgmental state of heightened or complete awareness of one’s thoughts, emotions, or experiences on a moment-to-moment basis.
Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now. And that’s a revelation for some people: to realize that your life is only ever now.
Being present, living in the moment, the power of now…there are many different ways of describing mindfulness. Recently, in order to survive an exceptionally busy week I found myself using a mindfulness technique my meditation teacher taught me. To call my mind back from the wreckage of my future I focused on what it was that I was doing right then then repeated it to myself as I did it. I’m brushing my teeth…I’m driving in my car…I’m dialing the phone…I’m walking up the stairs…you get the idea. Becoming aware of the present moment had a calming and focusing effect, reducing my anxiety and ultimately helping me use my time more wisely and purposefully. Pro tip: this technique works if you find yourself stuck rehashing the past too.
I thought that fretting about and trying to plan (aka control) the future would give me more peace of mind. The truth is that I wasted a lot of precious time doing that, and it sure didn’t net me the peace of mind I was seeking. That’s exactly what Eckhart Tolle is talking about when he says people believe that the next moment must be more important than the current one.
12-step programs advise members to take things “one day at a time” which is another way to stay present. Sometimes a day feels like too much, and it needs to be one minute at a time or even one breath. The effect is the same as my mindfulness trick – awareness returns to the present moment, and it becomes clear that in that moment we are ok. When our minds calm down and panic subsides we can better assess what to do in each subsequent moment. The only place where action can be taken is right now, the present moment. That’s what the “power of now” is all about.
Do you have your own mindfulness practice to share? If you don’t maybe this will inspire you to start one. Either way, report back! I’d love to hear about your experience.
For a more in-depth discussion of why living in the present moment is a really good idea, and a few solid tips on how to do it read The Art of Now: Six Steps to Living in the Moment
And in less than 10 minutes Andy Puddicombe explains how 10 minutes of mindfulness can change your life.
“Forever is composed of nows.”
“Be present in all things and thankful for all things.”
“This very moment is the perfect teacher, and, lucky for us, it’s with us wherever we go.”
“The here and now is all we have, and if we play it right it’s all we’ll need.”
“Instead of bracing yourself for the perils of the unknown, embrace the joy that is here, in your present moment.”
“The only true thing is what’s in front of you right now.”