Frequently in my articles, speeches, and interactions, I lay stress on ‘Living in the Moment’— mindfulness as some would like to call it. I emphasize on eliminating futile anticipation of the future events and reminiscence or remorse of the past. The reason being the fact that past and future are nothing but experience and anticipation in the imagination. Neither of them has as much to do with our present as we are conditioned to believe.
“The present is always existential and nothing else matters. Being in the present is the job at hand”.
The feedback I get to this appeal varies from “how do you live in the moment?” and “why should I not think of securing my future?” to “ what else to do when the present feels unpleasant and unimportant?”.
These reactions are an outcome of social conditioning that has not prepared us to understand and experience the reality as it is. The resulting problem is human beings are surviving like headless chickens, continuously moving back and forth in time (past or future) in their imagination — not knowing that we are here to experience bliss by being in the present.
Yesterday is gone, it is an experience now. In the same way, tomorrow is just events that are waiting to occur. They can be anything and our mind has to be receptive to them. Not reacting but accepting them is the way to live in the moment, to be mindful.
Moving on, the present feels unpleasant and unimportant because we have already anticipated and imagined a destined future. The reality turns out to be different and the mismatch between what we had imagined and that causes pain. There would’ve been no disappointment had we not anticipated the future.
We can only experience the reality when we are living in the present moment. For there is no future and no past, only the continuing present. The present is always permanent and that alone exists. Time as such is nothing other than the present.
Another counter-argument I often receive is that human beings are born with the ability to reflect on the past and imagine & anticipate the future. It is these capacities have helped human beings evolve to this extent.
Makes sense, but there is a catch.
Human beings having the most evolved brain and the power of imagination and understanding are independent to form opinions, thoughts, or beliefs. This is the source of all the creativity, intelligence, and other things that human beings are able to achieve. However, the same faculties allow human beings to form beliefs and thoughts that are contrary to reality, sometimes damaging, and other times unimportant in life or unproductive.
The practice of verifying and validating different experiences and conclusions and mental conceptions is missing from society. This being the reason, human understanding and thinking have remained subject to exploitation. Not only are we living by wrong, unverified beliefs, we are also not accepting and experiencing reality.
If human beings can start accepting things that are validated against reality and align with reality, there will be uniformity, there will be harmony and festivity all around.
Consequences of wandering in the past or future…
Using the faculties of imagination, memory, understanding, etc., human beings have solved a lot of problems in the material physical world. The progress human beings have made over time is proof of the same. However, due to misuse of these same faculties out of ignorance, human beings have concocted mental complexities that were not there in reality.
Sadness, depression, anxiety, et al. are the result of not being able to live in the present. When we are dwelling in the past, we are recreating and reliving the experience that we consider unpleasant. One might say, what if we are thinking of pleasant memories? Yes, pleasant memories can be relived in mind. However, what makes sense is creating beautiful interactions, memories in the present and living them first hand. This, so we have something blissful to think of in times to come.
When we are constantly thinking of the future, anticipating it, we feel suffocated and uneasy. Not only are we missing out on the chance of experiencing bliss in the present, but we are also creating scope for getting disappointed in future.
Be mindful all the time…
First of all, avoid the consequences of not being mindful.
We seldom pay attention to what is happening in the moment, missing out on so many beautiful opportunities to experience abundance, to learn, to interact, to create beautiful memories, to establish a connection with other human beings and nature.
Ironically, we don’t realize what we are missing until we have missed it. It is only after living consciously in the present moment, can the beauty of mindfulness be felt.
What mindfulness does to us:
- It opens the door to thoughts and experiences that are inaccessible in the deluded mental state.
- Abundance, harmony, and coexistence expressed in nature can be felt at all times.
- The conditioned impulsivity of chasing more, better, and faster can be put to rest.
- We can act responsibly making better decisions for ourselves and the rest of humanity.
- We learn the natural way of conducting ourselves, eliminating biases and conditioning.