The challenges of staying present. I practice meditation and I have say it’s difficult to stay in the present. My mind is drifting into thinking about the difficulties in the future or having regrets about the past.
There is a great proverb that sums up this tendency: Today is the tomorrow you worried about yesterday.
So here is some evidence to showcase why we shouldn’t feel badly about this. Modern science has shown that our brains are wired to dwell on the past and worry about the future. It started with our ancestors who lived millions of years ago. The hunter gatherer phase. Their brains developed a powerful ability to analyse the past and the future to quickly evaluate and evade threats. Today that behaviour is causing an unwanted side effect as we are no longer threatened by those around us. We are constantly thinking about the past and the future even though we are no longer facing the same kind of threats.
We see this when we are meditating. We try and concentrate on the breath or a home base but no matter how hard we try, we are continually swept up in a memory of yesterday or a preoccupation with tomorrow. What’s important is that we expect these passing thoughts and concerns. The key is not to be swept away with these thoughts so it’s important to recognise these emotions in a non judgmental, non critical way.
Just note what is happening with a knowing smile and then come back. Staying present is a challenge in not only meditation but also in life but as we work on it, we start to live with more consciousness, vibrancy and joy. As Eckhart Tollé says when your attention moves into the now, there is an alertness. It is as if you are waking from a dream. The dream of thought. The dream of past and future. Such clarity and such simplicity has no room for problem making. Just this moment as it is.
Finally I read that we should choose to give attention to what we do or fail to do and not what others do or fail to do. That way we eliminate idle chatter and gossip that can upset or even harm the offended person. There was a story about a man who went to ask a priest how he could cure his desire to gossip. The priest told him to go and cut open a feather pillow and let all the feathers fly away in the wind. Then the priest asked the man to go and pick every feather up and put it back in the pillow. The man said that’s impossible and the pries replied that this is what happens when you gossip. It is impossible to take back the harm that had been done, however it was said or meant.