It seems like such an easy thing this living in the present, doesn’t it? In reality it can be very difficult, after years of living your life in the past or always trying to ensure a certain type of future. I struggle with this inability to live in the now on a daily basis, so much so as I have become an Eckhart Tolle junkie, owning just about every audio book that Audible has offered me. I wrote a book review a while back The Power of Now on one of my other blogs InspirationalBookReviews.com, that you might enjoy. I highly recommend this book and have listened to it more times than I can remember.
For those of you already enlightened and living in the now fully you can just quit reading this blog right now and I hope you have a great day, but if you are not quite living in the now on a consistent basis, read on. Our minds produce thousands of thoughts per day and it seems like we have little control of all this shit that is happening in our heads. If we stand any chance of experiencing the present moment we are going to need some tools or techniques to combat all that silly shit going on in our heads. Maybe all we need is a way to quiet the mind if you will. Now what I am going to advocate is not necessarily new or unique, but stick with me here for a moment, after all we all need to find some reprieve from all the noise in our heads that is preventing us from enjoying the present moment.
Here are a few things you might try to allow you to consciously experience the present moment:
- Do one thing at a time – This sound stupid at first, but think about how many times you put on your head phones start listening to an audio book and look at your Facebook or Instagram feed at the same. Even if you do not realize it, you are multi-tasking and pretty soon you missed some of the passages in your audio book as your mind focused on something visual in your social media feed. You have trained yourself to need audio and visual stimulation and your mind is trying to process both at the same time, and while this might be your version of living in the now, it is a pretty fucked up reality. Do this at work and you will find that what you attempt to get done takes longer and the quality suffers. This is really about the power of focus, which facilitates a better experience of the present moment. The lesson is try to do one thing at a time.
- Yoga and Meditation – Oh now here we go again, off on the yoga and meditation tangent, please save me from this mad man. Fine, I said it for you, now let me continue. The simple fact is that it’s pretty hard to live in the past or future once you learn to practice yoga and focus on your breathing. The same is true for meditation where you can use some techniques that will help you stay focused on the present moment. I will not belabor this point, but I do encourage you to start your day with yoga and meditation if you want to experience what living in the present can hold for you.
- Expectations – If you are continually filling your mind with expectations of what your life should be like or how the next thing you need to do should turn out; well then you are living in the future. We all do this shit! I can’t tell you how many times I wake up early worried about some stuff at work that isn’t getting done the way I think it should or isn’t turning out the way I think is should. How in the hell can I enjoy the present moment if I continue to have all these expectations? I can’t focus on living in the present moment until I can say fuck it. That doesn’t mean I don’t care, it just means I accept whatever happens instead of torturing myself with all the stupid expectations of the future. The lesson here is expectations are living in the future and preventing you from living in the present.
Really anything I’ve written today seems on the surface pretty straightforward:
Do one thing at a time
Practice yoga and meditation
Stop expecting things to turn out a certain way
None of this shit is easy, but each of these things is possible with a little practice, or in my case a lot of practice. Doing one thing at a time or practicing yoga not only provides an opportunity for you to live fully in the present moment, but also has many other benefits. Why do you think so many people drink, ingest or smoke cannabis, take prescription pain killers, or other forms of mind altering substances? It helps them experience the present moment and quiets their minds, but the problem is it is not sustainable and ultimately causes more trouble than it is worth.
Being the owner of a goal driven, super active, future based thinking mind I am challenged everyday to maintain a focus on the present moment. I would love to hear some of the ways you have found help you stay focused one the present moment.
Often we think we need to make radical changes in our lives to create success, when in reality it is the little incremental changes that make the biggest difference. You don’t need to quit your job, abandon everything you know, or put your financial future at risk; you just need to start making changes in your behavior one step at a time.
What is Success?
When I talk about success I’m not limiting it to financial gain, but that will certainly be one measure. You might also define success in terms or relationships, health, skills, or peace of mind just to name a few. Another way to look at success is personal growth. Successful people are people that are always growing. Personal growth provides satisfaction and happiness, which ignites a need for more growth. Face it if you are not growing as an individual you are standing still and nothing changes.
Ways to be more successful
Think of how much you could achieve if each month you made one little change in your behavior. Each time you made one of these seemingly insignificant changes they would begin to propel you towards achieving your goals. One of the reasons you will achieve your goals is that you are building self discipline with each change. Let’s take a look look at some examples:
- I get up an hour earlier to perform my yoga practice
- I quit eating foods that contain high amounts of sugar
- I begin eating more fruits and vegetables
- I quit drinking alcoholic beverages (OK not such a small thing)
- I start going to the health club and began lifting weights
- I begin studying for a certification related to my job
- I take a class on something I’m interested in
- I learned to play a musical instrument
- I read one new book a month on a topic that will change the way I think
Peace of mind
- I quit watching the news on TV
- I meditate for 10 – 15 minutes every day
- I start watching motivational videos on YouTube (Jim Rohn, Tony Robbins, Les Brown, Eric Thomas, Esther Hicks, Wayne Dyer, or Mel Robbins)
- I started a blog to write about something I am interested in, not for other people but for myself
Don’t limit yourself
While I mentioned you can chose one thing each month to change, there is really no limit. Let’s take watching the news in the morning. What a horrific way to start your day. You are feeding your mind politics, tragedy, pain, suffering, and tons of negative things and getting little in return. So instead of watching the news, roll out your yoga mat, and while doing your routine listen to or watch something inspirational on YouTube. Now you have accomplished three things in the same amount of time and do this every day and your whole life begins to change.
We improve by making changes, some small, some bigger, but by changing. As we make these changes we are creating self discipline and it is this very fact that will lead us to great success however you define it.
Choose that one thing today that will move you forward.
I used to be somewhat of a purest when it came to meditation preferring that it be done in silence or at my house something close to that. I also tried guided meditation, but that drove me kind of crazy and I decided it was just too prescriptive and didn’t allow my thoughts to flow as I was just listening to whoever was speaking.
Now if silence or guided meditation works for you then who am I to say that you shouldn’t just stick with what works. More recently I’ve found some pretty good meditation music from Yellow Brick Cinema that seems to allow my thoughts to come and go without distracting me. You will have to find the music that works for you, but there are so many choices available and it might just take sampling a few before you find exactly what works for your. I eventually built up a pretty good YouTube playlist. Here is the link to the playlist:
My Meditation Playlist
Give it a try and let me know if you found meditating with any of these music videos helpful.
I thought this was pretty insightful. If you currently meditate or are considering meditation here are some reasons why it is so beneficial.
If you asked most people what their ultimate goal in life is, probably 90% would say to be happy. Why is being happy such an elusive state of mind for most of us? We struggle to make money, raise a family, buy houses and cars, and with all that we still don’t find a whole lot of happiness in our lives. Over the past 10 years I have tried a lot of things to increase my level of happiness and I wanted to share a few of those things that actually worked for me. So here are few things you might try:
- If you’ve read posts on my blog, you know I’m a big fan of practicing yoga. It is not only physically challenging, but it also helps you become calmer and more mindful.
- Meditation is great for clearing the mind, overcoming negative thoughts, and setting yourself up for a great day.
- Adopt a positive philosophy like the Law of Attraction, Buddhism, or any spiritual practice. You will approach each interaction from a positive perspective instead of reacting negatively to situations. Choose something that works for you. I personally study the Law of Attraction and Buddhism, both have contributed to my piece of mind.
- Quit caring about everything. I mean it, we all get wrapped up in stupid little things that won’t matter a week, a month, or a year from now. Make what and who you care about a select group, and adopt an attitude of I don’t give a shit about the rest.
- Stop doing things you hate. I can’t tell you how many people I know go through their work day as a zombie, no smiling, no laughing, and it is all drudgery. You were not meant to live that way. Find a way to do something you can get excited about. Look for a way to transition to something better, and in the mean time do the things above and at least you will view the world in a positive way and get some enjoyment out of your current situation.
- Last but not least, develop a gratitude practice. A truly grateful person will appreciate what they have and all the good things that are to come.
The last step in the Eightfold Path is right concentration. Once we use right mindfulness to become aware of what is going on around us, we can then use right concentration to focus on whatever we desire. We can use right concentration to focus on any object which gives us an understanding of the object as it actually is not what we previously perceived it to be.
Use right concentration to focus on things, with the benefit that you are now living in the present, freeing you from worries of the past and future. Practicing right mindfulness and right concentration is essential to meditation, awareness, and focus in your life.
To practice right concentration you might spend a few minutes focusing your eyes and mind on:
- A full or half moon
- The stars
- A candle
- Water as in a river, lake, or ocean
- A plant or tree
- An animal, reptile, or insect
- A figurine of the Buddha
These are just examples, really anything that appears interesting to you could become a target of your focus. In this act of concentration you are in fact meditating. Later on you might turn your attention from an object to a concept. You might focus your concentration on:
There are really no limits to using right concentration, other than you should use right concentration help you see things as they really are, and there needs to be a positive intent.
In prior posts I outlined the First Noble Truth “suffering”, the Second Noble Truth “Craving”, and the Third Noble Truth “ending craving and suffering”. If suffering can be overcome by ending craving, then how is this accomplished. The Fourth Noble Truth provides the answer in the form of the Eightfold Path. The Eightfold Path in its simplest form is:
In my next post we will look at Right View and what that really means.