Living in the Present Moment
We've all heard it, but how often do we actually do it? Present moment awareness is fundamental if we wish to evolve as human beings, for the present is the only place where we can truly connect with ourselves, with the inner experience of peace and fulfilment that I call “Love-Consciousness”.
Love-consciousness is the most natural thing in the world. It is the unconditional love within all beings, an experience that keeps expanding when we dive deep within ourselves. It is not a strange or ethereal experience but something very concrete and natural; you have probably experienced it before in moments of your life — maybe while spending time with a baby, expressing yourself creatively, watching the sun set, or meditating.
Love-consciousness lives in the present moment, so stop wandering off into the past and future — they've had quite enough of your time already, thank you. It’s time to give the here and now — the present, where life is really happening — a bit of sorely needed attention.
We all know we need to be present, but how? At times, we remember to be fully present, but worry and regret, distraction and obsession have become so customary for us that we soon wander off again. Today we are going to learn a powerful tool that will help create a new habit: the habit of being present, anchored deeply within ourselves. Then we can begin to live our lives from an inner space of peace and stability, to act and respond to the challenges of the day with joy, compassion and intuition, instead of getting lost in the doing.
Praise love for this moment in its perfection.
Let’s practice this facet now, for 20 minutes. Here’s how:
1. Sit comfortably and close your eyes. Allow any thoughts that come to mind to gently pass. Don’t seek to stop your thoughts; don’t try to enter a state of no-mind. Instead, just allow whatever comes to happen naturally.
2. Say, in your mind, this thought: Praise love for this moment in its perfection. Think it without any effort, the same way you might think any other thought, without concentrating or even trying to understand its meaning.
3. At the same time that you think this facet, put your attention deep in the area of your heart.
4. After thinking the facet, leave a space, a pause. After a few moments, repeat the thought and again leave a space.
5. Continue in this way for about twenty minutes. You can glance at your watch or a clock to check the time.
Don’t think the facet over and over again nonstop as you would a mantra — always leave a space of a few seconds between each repetition. You may experience peace and silence during this gap, but it is also possible that you will have thoughts. Sometimes you may forget the facet, change some of the words, or stray from the point of attention. If this happens, as soon as you realize it, simply go back to thinking the facet correctly. All of this is perfectly normal and natural. Just remember: when you realize that you are not thinking the facet, choose to think it again. Let’s close our eyes now, and practice for 20 minutes.
When You Have Finished...
In order to benefit from the full power of this facet, it is necessary to commit to regular practice. If we join a gym but never go, we do not get fitter. In the same way, if we do not practice the facets, they do not work. Ideally, practice for an hour a day with the eyes closed. You can divide this hour into two blocks of half an hour or three blocks of twenty minutes. The most important thing is that you do it. If on some days, you can’t do an hour, a shorter time is better than nothing.
We refer to practising the facet as unifying. There are two ways to unify: with eyes open and with eyes closed.
Keeping the eyes closed is the most profound way to unify, as it takes you deep into the experience of love-consciousness.
You can think this facet with your eyes open whenever you want, in any situation. For maximum results, think it every time you remember — while you are brushing your teeth, exercising at the gym, watching TV, or waiting in line at the bank. Every time you use the facet, you are bringing your attention completely into the present moment and connecting with love-consciousness. When you are present in the moment, the projections and fears clouding your window of perception begin to dissolve. You start to see with new eyes.
Reclaim the Innocence of Childhood
Children have the upper hand over us adults in the happiness department — they approach everything as if it were the first time, completely unfettered by what has come before. They see magic and wonder everywhere they look.
Can you imagine how much of a relief it would be to return to that state?
When I was a child, I just was. I wasn't observing myself or measuring the reactions of those around me; I was not trying to manipulate, seduce, or control in any way; just to be myself was enough. I had no concept of what it was to be ridiculous, or to be serious: if I was happy, I laughed; if I was sad, I cried. The bottom line: I didn't question my actions. I just was. I was the belongingness, being. Carrying the accumulated baggage of adulthood, with its opinions, fears, and misguided perceptions, we have lost this spontaneity.
As you go about your daily life, continually shake the Etch A Sketch of your mind and see things as a child would — without expectations or recriminations. Try to see each person afresh. When the homeless person comes to ask for a coin, give him a smile instead of your usual rebuttal — maybe that was all he ever really wanted. When your tedious mother-in-law calls on the phone, don’t answer anticipating her reprimands and complaints. When your boss calls you into her office, don’t automatically expect her to chastise you — maybe she’ll give you a raise! We are always on guard, expecting that something is wrong. Instead, adopt the emptiness and spontaneous innocence of a child; open yourself up to receive with joy.