HOW TO LIVE IN PRESENT MOMENT, WHILE HAVING HEALTHY RELATIONSHIPS WITH PAST AND FUTURE?
Rationally we all know that the present moment is the only moment we get to live in. We even experience the past and future in the present moment. The well-lived present makes both the past and future better. All that leads to a question why is it such a challenge to reside in the present moment? As the mystic Sadguru explains the biggest difference between us humans and other animals is our ability to remember something that happened years ago, as well as to plan something that might happen five years from now. And yet this same gift at the same time represents a burden for humans.
It is true is that without learning from the past a person cannot grow and expend. The reflection on the past is key to learning, whereas treasuring past memories makes our lives worth living. Likewise, without proper planning, we cannot create the desired future outcomes . The good things rarely happen by accident and often require planning. All this explains that we need both past memories and future plans, but the question is to which extent. There is always a trap of agonizing over the past traumas and so called “future tripping” – suffering anxiety of all terrible things that could happen in the future.
When we think of advice “live now“, we usually picture ourselves on meditation cushion, travelling to great destinations or enjoying vacations on sunny beech. However, the life consists more of the daily routines, such as waiting for bus, waking up at five AM with crying child, and other routine *rainy day* moments. Also, how to embrace *the now* when circumstances are tough, constricting, boring etc.? From the perspective of an ill or deeply depressed person “being in a moment, is horrific advice. All they need is hope for better tomorrow and being in the present is unbearable, even dangerous.”
It is widely accepted that those people who are overly stuck in the past, surrender their personal power and diminish their capacity to create life circumstances. We all have friends/neighbors who got stuck somewhere in the past, so nostalgic towards *the old times* that they fully skip the beauty of present moment. On the other side, fantasizing about future without the concrete actions taken, gets people too detached from thier present reality. The current opportunities may be lost and overseen due to wishes for things as they used to be or hoping life would unfold in a certain way .
The sound solution could be to operate in all three modes of linear time reality – the past, future and present, dancing between the polarities and switching from mode to mode whenever necessary. “The aim is not to diminish importance of mindfulness or “living in the moment,” but to remind that it’s just one mode of awareness, and it is just as important that we “step outside of the moment,” and interpret our world from a broader viewpoint.”1
Therefore, it is good to think of the past, when we want to reflect or treasure some great memories. However, constant agonizing over the past events and constantly reliving past traumas, is of course, negative for us. Same goes for the future. Over-fantasizing and daydreaming about the great future without taking concrete actions now, does not serve a purpose. Falling into trap of “destination addiction” and trading *the now* for the next thing coming, makes us run on empty eventually. Life is a journey not destination, after all , and I will be happy when I graduate, get married etc, is not good life strategy.
In the end we all operate in *the now*, and only the conscious and purposeful consideration of the past and future is beneficial to our wellbeing. The present moment is the only moment in which experience the Devine. Therefore, living a happy healthy life requires a balance between reflection, planning and living in the now.
HOW TO BALANCE THE AWARENESS MODES?
Practically most people spend more time in past and future, than in the present. Enjoying something now, makes us interested, involved and absorbed. Likewise, when our mind wanders off too often to the past regrets or future worries, we may ether get depressed or anxious. We are simply happier when our mind does not wander too much from the present moment into the past and future. Here are some tips and positions how to balance the past, present and future awareness modes and live happier lives:
1. Being childlike: We know that the children are the best teachers of living in the present, as they are fully embodied and absorbed in the moment. Learning to see and experience things with wonder, curiosity and novelty is a skill that can truly enrich our lives.
2. The journaling /writing is great method for being in the now, while also reminiscing past lessons or planning future actions. When we journal, we consciously process the past or plan the future. The “awareness” of journaling gives the past events and future actions a positive reframe.
3. Practicing mindfulness brings us back instantly to now. For instance, use of our senses (observation of nature, smelling fragrances, listening to music, touching things) brings us back to now, when we pay sufficient attention. Practicing mindfulness and attentiveness to what is happening right now, helps us use our minds, instead of minds using us.
4. Meditation helps us to train our attention, focus and awareness, to achieve mentally stable state and move above or “drama minds“. Meditative state allows us to take a break between stimulus and impulsive compulsive reactions. The meditation practices such as breath work, use of mantra, visualization, movement etc., helps us identify with our higher self, instead of identifying with our dramatic thoughts and emotions.
5. Doing what we love
The easiest way to be in the now is to do what makes us happy as much as possible. Occupying the presence by living moment to moment, doing what is at our heart, brings us joy. If we think too much what we have done five years ago, we are surely not giving ourselves fully today and not reaching potential now.
6. Recognition/acceptance that your thoughts are not reality. It is true that we cannot stop train of thoughts, but we can observe them and reject to identify with them. Adopting the belief that we are not our thoughts, helps us not over-obsess with past, future and even now. If now is unbearable, we surely know that it would pass. If the now is great, we celebrate the moment. The people who are laid back tend to avoid overthinking. We are not our thoughts, and thinking too much of ether past or future, gets us to skip the present moment.
7. Do not get angry when not living in the present moment
Do not get angry and do not judge yourself when you skip the present moment. Notice when you had lost the connection with your center (because of past regrets, future worries or fear), and decide to gently go back into the present moment.
8. Exercising (the body, not just heart, soul and mind)
We are also physical beings in this dimension, and for that reason the physical exercises and self care (exercises, yoga, physical movement, sleep, healthy foods etc.) all add to occupying the present moment with deeper attentiveness.
9. Positive reframing of the past, present and future
When it comes to the past, remembering the good times and learning from the difficult times certainly helps. Forgiveness practice may help in reframing past hurts and failures as normal parts of life and valuable lessons. The exaggerated dwelling on the past traumas and resentments (be it divorces, job losses, illness, people who had hurt us) bring us no good. The horrible things may become blessings, if we learn from them. The famous Oprah Winfrey views failures not as mistakes but simply as *redirections to even better things*. When it comes to present, learning to cease the moment with gratefulness is the key to happiness. Doing things we find the most joy in, makes us truly alive in the moment. Finally, looking forward to the future, with hope, positive goalsetting and preparation, while staying open to even better things, is the key .
TOMORROW IS ONLY A VISION. BUT TODAY WELL LIVED MAKES EVERY YESTERDAY A DREAM OF HAPPINESS, AND EVERY TOMORROW A VISION OF HOPE.” ― KALADANA
Re-published from blog Cokoholic