What exactly does living in the present moment mean?
The average person thinks many, many thoughts every single day, sometimes up in the thousands. And the troubling news is that, many times, not only are a lot of these thoughts about things that happened in the past or things about what could happen in the future, many times, it's thoughts about bad things that happened in the past or fearing what could happen in the future.
You see, many people are so used to living in their heads, thinking. It's the norm to be lost in our heads all day long, thinking about bad things in the past or worrying about things that could happen in the future. And sometimes this can get the best of us. It can consume our day and distract us from getting things done.
Imagine if you're in the gym doing a workout. You do one bicep curl, then two, then three, but you can't lift the dumbbell a fourth time. Why? It's because your bicep needs a rest. So what do you do? You put the dumbbell down, give yourself a few minutes of rest and then you pick up the dumbbell and lift it several more times.
The same is true for your mind. Your mind is not meant to be thinking constantly. Your mind needs to rest, just like a muscle. Moments of getting out of your head and experiencing the present moment are needed to tackle life's expected and unexpected circumstances as effectively as we can.
So, what does living in the present moment mean?
Living in the present moment simply means that we stop thinking and concentrate on the here and now. When we are totally consumed in what is happening at that given moment, it simply means that we are not thinking, not stuck in our minds, and living in the present moment.
When we are concentrating on exactly what is happening right now, it's not possible to think about yesterday or think about tomorrow. When we are consumed with what is happening right now, we are incapable of dwelling on something bad in the past and incapable of fearing what could happen in the future.
Some people call the present moment mindfulness or meditation. Many people have slightly different perceptions of what it means to live in the present moment. However, the big thing to remember is that living in the present simply means that you are void of thought. Sometimes living in the present moment may only last a few minutes or even a few seconds. That's okay! It takes time and it takes practice.
Let me give you some examples that you have probably experienced throughout your life where you inevitably experienced the present moment (even if you weren't aware of it).
- The very first time you held your child and gazed deeply into their eyes. This is the kind of moment that is sure to force you to experience the present moment, completely void of thought.
- If you're playing a sport, such as baseball, and the ball is hit towards you, chances are you are not thinking about yesterday or tomorrow. The action of the ball approaching you at a high speed forces you to concentrate on exactly that moment.
- If you look into the night sky and notice a shooting star. Because it's fairly rare to see a shooting star, you become entranced in the moment and stop thinking, even for the slightest amount of time.
These are only a few examples of the many times one can experience the present moment. Within those moments the mind is at rest. You are not consumed with thoughts about bad things in the past or thinking about things that could go wrong in the future. Even if experiencing the present moment comes and goes within mere seconds, it's a rest that the mind uses to its benefit.
Keep in mind, thinking is important. It's necessary to think about the past and necessary to think about the future. It's even sometimes important to think about bad things in the past or even fear things that can happen in the future.
Balance is key.
Imagine being able to experience the present moment on demand. It's an incredible ability to have. In future blog posts, I'll introduce you to meditation and simple, yet very effective ways to experience the joy, harmony and peace of living in the present moment.