LISTEN to this post (10min):
WATCH this post (17min):
READ this post (10min):
What is living in the present?
Many of us have heard about the need to live more in ‘the present,’ but what does this really mean?
There are different levels of being present, but it basically means to be conscious, aware and in the present with all of your senses. That is, your awareness is completely centred on the here and now. It means not dwelling on or thinking about the past, nor being anxious or worrying about the future.
Why is it so important to live in the present?
It is essential that we live in the present because this is the only moment that really exists – everything/life happens in the now. It is simply all we have. As such, both the past and the future only exist in your mind. The past is gone, meaning it can’t be changed. Whilst the future is not guaranteed, meaning we are never sure what direction our life will go. Therefore if you are not living in the present, then you are simply not living in reality and with that you are not living true.
But I suppose the real reason why it’s important to live in the present is because everything that you truly desire in life, including good health and happiness exists only in the present. That’s why it’s called the ‘present’ – it’s a gift. Obviously the opposite is also true – the more you live in the past and future the more you experience fear bases emotions such as depression and anxiety.
How do we live in the present?
Despite the fundamental importance of living in the present, there seems to be much confusion of how best to do so. But essentially, there are really 2 main ways to live in the present…
1.The first and easier way is to ‘try to live more in the present:’
The idea here being to become more fully absorbed in the present moment by shifting out attention away from both the past and future and instead focusing on whatever it is we are doing.
In a negative way this includes many of the addiction type behaviours such as smoking, drinking, drugs, gambling, etc. In one sense this is not so much living in the present so much as it is distracting yourself away from your past and future.
However in a more positive way, this may include things such as a doing a favourite hobby like going fishing or sewing, or doing things like exercising, socialising with friends, time with your pets, doing work we enjoy, or even going on holidays. Basically it can include anything we are doing in which we are not multitasking.
With that said however, as beneficial as these positive activities are, they only allow us to temporarily access the present moment when we are doing them. This is because when we stop doing them, our mind naturally begins to gravitate back to the past or future tense. This happens because the ego part of your mind is always subconsciously trying to identify with something from your past or future, in order to reinforce your identity – which is what you call ‘I.’ And this takes me onto the next point…
2.The second and harder way is to ‘become one with the present’:
I say the harder way because unlike the first way, this way requires self-development work which many of us can find difficult. There are many different types of self-development work which you can do to help you live more in the present, including things such as practicing self-compassion/acceptance/ forgiveness/gratitude, seeing a psychologist including things like CBT and ACT therapies, doing yoga, meditation including mindfulness, counselling, general healing and balancing modalities, spirituality, and so forth. These are all things I encourage, some necessary and some not so depending upon your level of awareness.
However with that said, being one with the present is essentially achieved through remembering who you really are (also known as self-actualisation), which is really the ultimate goal behind all of these different modalities and of all self-development work. The benefit of accessing the present this way is that once you do, you unintentionally become present in each and every moment of life without having to deliberately try to do so. Unfortunately, as life has become increasingly busy, more and more of us have lost focus of who we really are and with it our oneness with the present. Sure we like to think we know who we are, but the vast majority of us do not. I’ll ask you now, do you know who you really are?
But putting all other modalities aside, there is a simple deprogramming activity you can do write now to find out who you are, so that you can begin live more fully in the present.
The best way to become clear on who you are is to first become clear on who you are not. So let me give you a few tips of who you aren’t.
You are not…
Your occupation and/or title (I’m a doctor, a CEO, machine operator, teacher)
Your emotional states (I’m happy, sad, depressed, peaceful)
Your behaviours (I’m a yo-yo dieter, an alcoholic, a gambler)
Your roles (I’m a mother, sister, friend, eldest brother)
Your body (I’m beautiful, skinny, fat, short, ugly, sexy)
Your age (old, young, 30, 60)
Your material possessions and/or income (I drive a sports car, I have three houses, I’m a millionaire, I’m working class, I’m poor)
Your reputation (I’m useless, I’m special, I’m popular)
Your religious or spiritual beliefs (I’m Catholic, Buddhist, Muslim, Atheist)
Essentially you are not anything which constitutes your ‘story’ so to speak.
So let me ask you this – If nothing from your past defies who you are today then who are you?
Sure this may sound crazy, because if you are none of these things then who are you … right? I mean there’s not much left for you to identify with especially if you can’t identity with any of these things. And that’s my point — all you have left to identify with is the present moment. And so, the answer to who you are is ‘presence’ itself or ‘consciousness’ – that’s it.
On a deeper level, living in the present really means to live from a place of wholeness — without any identification with past or future tense. The more conscious you become of who you really are, the less you require anything from your past or future to form or enhance your identity. And when you have nothing left to identify with but your own conscious presence, you automatically begin to live more in the present moment.
Obviously with that said the opposite is also true – by making a conscious choice to live only in the present moment, you disallow anything from your past or future to influence your true nature. In fact, you are never more fully who you are than when you live in the present moment.
So remember, if you don’t live in the present, then you are not only fooling yourself, but also those around you. You will never achieve peak health and happiness, because you are living in a fictitious reality that you have created for yourself, and one which stress is a part of everyday life. One which affects everything you think, say and do in every single area of your life, including your health, relationships, work, faith and everything between.
Instead, aim to become increasingly conscious of your true nature, and as you do you will begin to live more fully in the present. This is a key attribute of living true and essentially of living a happier, healthier, fitter life.
So, I’d like to hear your thoughts on all of this?
Do you find that you spend most of your time in the past and future or do you find that you live mostly in the present and why?