With the past, I have nothing to do; nor with the future, I live now – Ralph Waldo Emerson

Living In The Now

Life unfolds in the present moment, but so often we let the present  slip away, allowing time to rush past us as we squander every precious moment of our lives as we worry about the past or the future. When we’re at work, we fantasize about being on holiday; on holiday we worry about the work pilling up on our desks. We don’t appreciate living in the present because our “monkey minds” as Buddhists call them, jump from thought to thought like monkeys swinging from tree to tree.

We need to learn to live in the moment. Living in the now – also known as mindfulness – is a state of bare attention on the present moment. When you become mindful, you realize you are not your thoughts; you observe your thoughts passing but you do not judge them. Neither do you grasp them or push them away.

Most of the time, our minds are caught up in thoughts of the past or the future. We weave fantastic stories about things we remember or events that we hope will soon come to pass in the near future. We soon realize, that the only experience of the past is a thought passing through this very moment.

A memory from an earlier part of my life, reminds me of this essential truth. My parents would always tell me, tomorrow never comes, when I would not listen. I always thought to myself, tomorrow will come, what do they know?  When I look back and reflect on my own experiences, I think they were imparting deep lessons which I didn’t understand at the time.

Tomorrow is an illusion, and we can only live in the present moment. Even if you live until tomorrow with the mindset of “Tomorrow”, I’ll do x, y and z. Those goals will always seem to be out of our reach, as something else always grabs our attention. Start by acting now, there is no tomorrow, what are you waiting for? 

So forget about the past and don’t worry about the future. Take a deep breath and ground yourself in the present moment – the now.

Try it now: close your eyes, and concentrate on your breathing – the sensation of air as it enters your nose  and fills your lungs, and as it goes out again. If thoughts come up, simply observe, acknowledge them and let them go and return your attention to your breath.

So do thoughts exist outside of the physical organism? The obvious answer is: No. The past and the future is an illusion, as they are simply thoughts. The present moment – Living in the now – is the only moment we truly have. Only in the present moment will you find freedom – the source and ground of our very being.