About 22 years ago I was one of the most unconscious, non-present people you would ever meet. Since that time I have worked hard to learn about being present, practicing being present and helping others along the same journey. Over the past few months of our travels and since returning to the US I have become much more aware of when I am present and when I’m not. I’ve also been noticing others around me and how present they are. Being present is something that is not common in our culture and something that I value immensely. I’m starting to realize those values that I want to live my life by and the ones that I want those closest to me to share, and being present is definitely one of them.
When I talk about being present, I mean shutting off that voice that is constantly communicating to us and being with the person we are with. That person can be ourselves when we are meditating or just spending quiet time alone. Being present is about noticing what is going on right in front of us, not thinking about the past or worrying about the future. We have an opportunity in each moment to be present and it takes a significant amount of practice to be present on a consistent basis. What I have learned over the past two decades is the more present I am the more connected I feel with others and to myself. I continue to believe that deep human connectedness is what we crave, so being present is a key ingredient to being more connected.
When I read Eckhart Tolle’s book A New Earth he talked about how amazing the human body is. Our bodies can pump blood, we digest food, we process waste and so many other things that we never think about at all. In addition, we process information in our brain, but as human beings we have the special gift to be able to inspect our thoughts. The question that Tolle asks is just because we “can” inspect our thoughts does that mean we should? His contention, as I understood it, was that our brains will take care of the thinking whether we focus energy on it or not. Each time we inspect our thoughts we are not being present, even though our brain will work through the problem without our attention.
So, where does this leave us? I believe that the more present we can be, the less we listen to the voice in our head and the less we inspect what we are thinking about, the richer our lives will be. Many have said that the only moment that exists is this one, so when we are living in the past or in the future we are not being present. I vow to live as many moments as I possibly can in the present and stop being controlled by past experiences or worry about the future. Each present moment is unique and we can be whatever we choose, I choose to be here.
To a life well lived!