Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment –
The title sure sounds like a television commercial, but all of us have at some point in life wished to get rid of all our problems in a second and find happiness. But it isn’t that simple, is it ?
However, it is.
The big reason for all our worries, unhappiness and anxiety is the fact that we do not accept simple solutions.
Our minds just don’t agree that the solution to the biggest problem could be simple and not some super complex chain of computer code.
It feels like we are in a constant battle with ourselves and time. It never seems to resolve.
We’ve already been through tons of self-help columns, spirituality sections and what not. Everywhere, we find just one piece of advice written repeatedly –
Live in the present moment, of course followed by lessons on mindfulness meditation and its benefits.
However, after reading it, do we really ask ourselves, what “a moment” really is?
Or how does one define “a moment”? And finally, what should or does it feel like to live in the present moment?
First, we need to define for ourselves what a moment really is. And can we really measure it or quantify it ?
If we take “time” as the measure, we would find ourselves slicing it down to a very very small fraction which is quite impossible to quantify without the help of some really sophisticated technology.
Should we then, take a chunk of it ? Call 1 second, a moment. In many situations, we find ourselves do a lot more within 1 second. Musicians would agree.
If it isn’t going to be “a slice of time”, then consequentially, it can’t be an “action” that could qualify for the measure of a moment.
Can we move deeper ?
What about our mental processes ? A thought perhaps ?
A human on average has anywhere between 60000 to 90000 thoughts in a day. If we focus our minds to such a narrow band, we might find ourselves getting exhausted pretty quickly.
Should it then be an emotion ? An emotion is a chain reaction. A mix of different chemicals acting together to create a “feeling” that causes one to behave or react in a particular manner.
It could be a great measure. Emotions are not as many as thoughts.
However, they do not change as often either. If we are in a happy mood, we continue to stay in it till some external or internal force acts upon it and changes its course.
Let’s head onto some physical processes. My first guess, breath ! What are its characteristics?
1. It is constant, albeit of different lengths at different conditions
2. It is something innate or not artificial
3. It can be observed and,
4. Not much of the mind’s energy reserves are needed during focusing sessions
We can easily use the breath as a measure of a moment. How do we quantify it?
Consider this. When we are running, the inhalation and exhalation are rapid, which inadvertently defines the situation we are in. That of pace, faster events, faster movement. When we are relaxing, our moments are stretched out.
When we focus on our breath, we follow one such process that is currently happening. It is in the present that we breathe. The inflow and outflow are all in the present.
Thus, we bring our minds to the present.
If we are to react to a situation, we can check in with our breath and elongate the moment to take time to understand the situation.
For instance, when someone is angry, they can draw in the “moment” and really elongate it to understand why they feel that way. While, the focus is on the moment, it is most likely that the particular emotion dies down.
How does it feel to remain in that moment?
Quite peaceful. Calm. Settled. Free.
A good enough reason to define our breath as a moment and live in it, right? What do you think ?