How to Live in the Moment
Mindfulness is one way of cultivating a meditative state. There are many forms of meditation: sitting, lying down, moving, drawing, writing, breathing, chanting, creating, and so on. In my practice and workshops, we experience all these forms of meditation, and more.
The two common threads present in all these forms of meditations are (1) dropping the “Monkey Mind” and (2) being in the moment.
Dropping the Monkey Mind
The Monkey Mind refers to the obsessive, compulsive currents of thoughts that race across our minds. They are called the Monkey Mind because, as the name suggests, they are restless and jumping. When we are in the throes of the Monkey Mind, it is as if we are tied up and dragged around by the monkey’s tail, pulled helplessly to places we don’t even wish to go. There is very little respite or inner quiet in that place.
Meditation teaches us to disengage from the Monkey Mind and detach from its frantic pace. Slowly, we learn to free ourselves from its grip. Underneath the Monkey Mind lies the creative mind, and beneath that lies the Zen Mind, or the True Mind.
The True Mind is still, accepting, and observing. It is nonreactive. It is peaceful. Needless to say, it is a great relief to abide in that mind. It is just that it takes practice and mindfulness to get there.
Being in the moment is the ability to be fully engaged and focused in the present moment, whether we are in the midst of an activity or at rest. When we are in the moment, we are enjoying, accepting, and flowing with what is. We all long to experience our moments and enjoy them, but hypnotized by a sense of urgency, we frequently forget how.
We feel we must be [better, prettier, smarter], must do [more, less, different], must have [a bigger house, a nicer car, a new job], and everything needs to happen right now. We stress ourselves out, and many times overwhelm ourselves, with our lists of “musts.”
It is difficult to simply smell the roses when we are jogging breathlessly on the treadmill of self-imposed, and at times unnecessary, expectations and demands. We long to live peacefully within our skin, challenging ourselves, but from a place of love and self-acceptance. We long to be, to breathe, to take in life, to smile with it, to gently flow and feel the rhythm of nature. Meditation helps us learn the art of being.
Exercise: A Moment to be in the Moment
Two or three times a day, stop for 3−5 minutes and step away from the treadmill of life to take a break. Sit or lie down, or just be where you are. Take some deep breaths. Feel the air going in and out of your nostrils. Look around and see the shapes and the colors of objects around you. Really see them.
Take in the play of the light merging with the shadows. Listen to the sounds. Keep relaxing into your body. Feel the different ways that your energy is flowing. Sense the vibrations pulsating in your hands, your feet. Listen to your heartbeat. Witness your feelings. Maybe you feel giddy, maybe you feel stressed. Just notice, without judging.
Also notice your physical sensations. Maybe you have a slight headache, or you’re a little hungry. Take in as many elements of the moment as possible. Allow it to be. See if you can drop any desire to have the moment be different. Can you just let it be what it is? If you find that you are judging, anxious, or stressed, then witness your feelings and accept them as part of this moment, an element of it.
Mindfulness is the only activity that is not about doing but about being. We’re
not trying to produce any results, not trying to improve anything or get anywhere; we are just resting in the moment.
The non-action of resting is what teaches us to be more serene, it allows to accept, and embrace life as it is. This does not mean that we become passive, dispassionate, or resigned. It means that we’re able to flow with and work with life and not brace against it, or try to manipulate it.
If you are a fish, you intuitively know that it is best to cooperate with the ocean. Fish do not try to control the ocean. They are life-smart. They naturally relax and flow with the currents. We can learn to do the same.
There is power in cooperating with life. It is referred to as “effortless effort” or “desire-less desire,” which simply means ease of being. Sometimes, the best way to get somewhere is to let go of trying too hard and open yourself to receive.
Ease of being helps us make deeper, more informed choices from a place of inner trust and self-confidence.
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