Being in the present moment is not difficult, although I often receive questions about it. People often ask, “Well, how do I be in the present moment?” The truth is, we can’t be anywhere but in the present moment. We are alw
ays in the present moment. It is only our thoughts that take us elsewhere. Being in the present moment simply means that we are thinking about being somewhere or someone else.
So, if we stop thinking about being elsewhere and fully experience the here and now, we are being present, so to speak. And it is not difficult. We just have to love being here and now more than being anywhere or anyone else. If we let go of the past and the future and just become aware, we automatically find ourselves in the present moment.
There’s no need to try to be in the present moment. If you’re trying to be in the present moment, it means that the mind is becoming more active, which defeats the purpose. The thinking mind can never be in the present moment because thoughts are always about the past or the future. Thought itself is never about now.
So, trying to be present involves the thinking mind trying to grasp the present, which only pushes us further away from it. To be present, we don’t need to do anything or think. It’s about being aware and fully experiencing the now, embracing its fullness and richness, without being concerned or worried about the past or the future.
It’s about letting go and dwelling in the now. It’s not a matter of doing or thinking. Being present simply means being aware and fully experiencing the present moment. Now, someone may ask, “How do you be present?” Well, the truth is, you are always present. You can’t be anywhere but present.
It’s just the mind that makes it seem otherwise. So, my response is to stop trying to be anywhere or anyone else. Stop dwelling on the past and future. It’s not about doing. It’s about ceasing action, letting go of the past and future. Just be still, and you will automatically be in the present. There’s nowhere else to be but the present. Now, sometimes I find it helpful to have body awareness as well…
Just being aware seems kind of ephemeral, vague, hard to touch. So, I would suggest closing your eyes and placing your neat hands on your knees. Raise one arm or both; either option works well. However, if you raise your hands off the knees, make sure you’re in a room with a constant temperature, with closed windows and no air movement. In that moment of raising your hand, ask yourself, “How do I know my hand is still there?”
Now, the thinking mind might immediately rebut, “Well, I don’t know the hand is there.” The thinking mind typically relies on stimulus, and if there’s no immediate noticeable stimulus or input, it assumes the hand is not there or not important. But stay with it a little longer. Let the mind go. It doesn’t matter. The mind doesn’t quite understand it. Just focus on what you feel. Do you notice anything? Is there a tingle, a heat, a warmth, or perhaps a feeling of energy and aliveness? The possible feelings can vary based on your own disposition and past experiences. The experience of the hand being there is possible, and the hand is probably the easiest place to start. That’s why I recommend it.
Once you feel the hand, try to feel the other hand as well. Then, feel the aliveness, energy, tingling, or heat in both hands. Next, extend this awareness to both feet, encompassing the extremities. Now you have the hands and the feet covered. Work inward, moving through the arms to the torso and head. Try to feel the entire body. When you breathe, feel the air coming in through the nostrils, down the windpipe, and filling the lungs. Notice the movement of the diaphragm. As you exhale, observe the accompanying sensations.
Instead of merely being aware of the breath, which is often a form of Zen meditation, try feeling it. Feeling the breath is what true awareness of the breath means. You can do this with the inside and outside of the body, from the limbs to the fingers, toes, and feet. Feel the entire body. This is body awareness.
From there, you can explore and play around with feeling as much as you can. It doesn’t have to be limited to the wind, the air, smell, or touch. There are mystical experiences in which you feel one with the woods or the location you’re in. So, it is possible.
To get the feeling of feeling everything, think about it this way: If you’re in a pool of water and someone jumps in, even if your back is turned, you still feel it through the compression of the water. Similarly, air is a fluid, just less dense. So when a bird chirps, a wave passes through the fluid of air, reaching your eardrums and creating sound, which you hear. But can you feel it with your skin? Can you feel the bird chirp? I’m not saying you can or you can’t. It’s more of an experiment, a curiosity to see how much you can feel. Can you feel a bird’s chirp? Can you feel the trees sway? Can you feel everything? It’s one thing to see it, but it’s another to feel it. Seeing, although a sense that often connects directly to the mind and leads to contemplation, is something we’ll skip. Instead, we’ll go straight to a kinesthetic feeling and see what happens. It’s as simple as that.
Being in the present moment is as simple as that. It’s not being concerned with the past and future. Of course, there are times when you have to plan, such as when you’re taking a trip. During the planning phase, there’s a purpose, a reason for thinking about the future. But once the planning is done, you stop thinking about the future.
If you’re discussing a past event, yes, you have to think about the past, but only for as long as necessary, and then you let it go. Surprisingly, we don’t really need the past and future very often. It’s a rarity, an uncommon occurrence, unlike what most people do every day. Thinking about the past and future is a common occurrence for them. So, I encourage you to experiment and play with how much you can let go, how much you can stop worrying about the past and future, and simply be present. That is being in the present moment. It’s as simple as that.
There’s no mumbo-jumbo, no technique, no trying. Just let go of the past and future, fully experience what’s happening in your present. It’s as simple as that.