I was asked an important question the other day in one of my reading sessions that can apply to all of us. The question was, “Is there something I’m missing that’s causing me to repeat the same old patterns in my relationships?” I answered, “What you’re missing is living in the present moment.” By the silence on the other end of the phone, I thought to myself, she’s thinking I’ve lost my mind, or she’s processing what I said, or she’s asking herself “What did she say?” After a momentary pause she said, “I’m somewhat confused. Aren’t we always living in the present moment? What does it mean to live in the present moment? If I’m not living in the present moment, then where am I living? Better yet, what do I have to do to get there?” Great questions indeed.
Yes, literally we’re always physically living in the present moment. However, for the most part we’re mentally living in the past. Therefore, our mind is on autopilot. This means we aren’t consciously aware of being in the present moment. We aren’t intuitively attentive or cognitively engaged in what’s happening, so we can’t take advantage of the opportunities or make the shifts in thinking the present moment offers. Opportunities and shifts that can change our choices in the present moment, and can change the outcomes in the future.
Living in the Present Moment
Living in the present moment entails using our heightened senses of intuition and empathy to discern what’s happening in the moment, and read the intentions within what we’re experiencing. These heightened senses increase our ability to pay attention to our state of mind. They increase emotional awareness to let us know what we’re feeling, and how our body’s reacting to what the mind’s telling it. They reveal if we’re mentally shutting down or if we’re open and receptive to new ideas. They make it possible for us to eavesdrop on our self-talk, and hear if the words we’re saying are driven by fear or assurance. These heightened senses look deeper into what’s being said, how it’s being said, and provide instant emotional feedback.
Living in the present moment requires us to mentally raise our awareness of what’s being experienced. It necessitates focusing the mind on the moment in order for us to make a conscious choice to see what we’re experiencing from an expanded perspective. Living in the present moment involves being fully engaged in what’s happening. Yet, not being attached to what’s happening, meaning observing rather than controlling. These shifts change everything. Now, rather than emotionally reacting to what’s happening, we respond to it. Rather than seeing the experience through our mental limitations, we see the possibilities it offers. Rather than feeling anxious, we feel calm and at ease. And, rather than feeling like life is controlling us, we become aware that we’re actually controlling our life.
Living in the present moment is soul-heartedly and heart-heartedly engaging in what’s happening in any precise moment. It isn’t mentally avoiding what’s happening because it feels unfamiliar or uncomfortable.
The Mind’s Perspective of Living in the Present Moment
Unfortunately, one of the most difficult things for us to do is to consciously live in the present moment. Why? The mind is conditioned to live in the past, and to use the past to influence the decisions in the present. Decisions that impact the future. The mind knows the present moment is short-lived. Consequently, it only stays in that moment for a split second. Just long enough to gather the information it needs to determine what to do next. The mind sees no value in wasting time or energy prolonging or lingering in the present moment. As soon as it gathers what it needs, it immediately moves into the decision-making process. However, before it can make its final decision it has to visit its memory banks. There it searches and selects only past memories that are relevant to what it gathered briefly while in the present moment. If the memories gathered are in alignment with the new information decision made. The past is repeated.
On the other hand, when the mind can’t find enough past memories to support the information it gathered in the present moment the decision-making process slows down. It stalls the process and confusion and doubt creep in. At this point, the mind doesn’t know what to do, so it uses emotions to help it weigh the consequences of what it decides. If the emotions trigger fear and create anxiety, then the mind will decide not to act. It will basically deem the information irrelevant and risky. Once again, the past repeats itself, and the opportunities for change the present moment offered are overlooked and forgotten.
The Soul’s Perspective of Living in the Present Moment
The soul only lives in the present moment. It doesn’t have a need to rely on the past to influence the guidance it offers. It’s keenly aware of how the past creates limiting beliefs, and how the ego uses those beliefs to control the mind. The soul sees no value in old perceptions. All they do is focus the attention of the mind on scarcity and survival, which are major stumbling blocks to personal growth and spiritual development.
The soul uses the present moment to determine the insight, wisdom, and guidance it offers. Its primary desire is to fully engage in all of the experience’s life offers. It creates and attracts as many different experiences needed to shift thinking, expand consciousness, and promote spiritual growth. It doesn’t concern itself with what the mind thinks or worry about if the mind sees the experience as good or bad or pleasant or unpleasant. It’s only focused on the experience.
The soul views change as a necessary and integral part of the spiritual journey of Knowing Thyself, and the only way to promote change is through experiences. The intention of the soul is to BE in the moment and observe all the experience has to offer, and then move into DOING. It sees the present moment as a spiritual opportunity to tap into the wisdom of the heart, and use that wisdom to free the mind of its mental limitations, so it’s receptive to change.
The soul understands living in the present moment creates a momentary opportunity for the mind and the heart to merge their perspectives. With these shared perspectives, consciousness expands. The mind is able to free itself from the past, and the fears and insecurities of the ego. It’s able to move beyond its self-perceived self-importance, and tap into the potential that lies inside. The heart helps the mind find meaning in the experiences, and uses those experiences to create the fertile ground for the imagination and creativity to express themselves. The soul views the present moment as the sacred space where the mind and the heart can awaken to a new reality. Where a new sense of self can be born, and a new world can be created.
The soul loves the present moment and it wants to stay in it as long as it can. It even lets us know when we’re in the present moment through its uplifting energy. It encourages us to look for the beauty all around us. It supports finding the lesson and meaning buried in each experience. It uses optimism, hope, excitement, inspiration, courage, and confidence to show us it’s paving the way for good things to come our way. Perhaps the most obvious way the soul let’s us know we’re living in the moment is we find appreciation in the simple things. The simple things that bring forth life’s greatest pleasures.
Keys to Living in the Present Moment
Here are twelve keys that can help you live in the present moment.
Key #1: Practice Now Thinking
What you think in the moment creates what you experience tomorrow. Choose your thoughts in the now wisely.
Key #2: Set A Clear Intention
If you don’t tell your mind what you want it to do, then your past will tell it what to do.
Key # 3: Clear Your Mental Atmosphere
Take time to free your mind of problems. Listen to music, meditate, do something creative.
Key #4: Avoid Ruminating
If you find your mind is ruminating, take a deep breath. Breathing directs the mind’s attention to the present moment.
Key # 5: Tell Your Ego to Take a Hike
Releasing the hold your ego has over your thinking removes the fears and insecurities formed from conditioning and the past.
Key # 6: Search for Meaning in Your Experiences
Experiences don’t just happen. What you think attracts them. Be fully engaged in what’s happening in the now, and you’ll find meaning in them.
Key # 7: Pay Attention to What Your Body’s Telling You
Your body provides an instant read on where your mind is focused. If your body is stressed your mind is focused on the past. If you’re anxious your mind is focused on the future. If your body is at ease your heart is telling you you’re in the present moment.
Key # 8: Live from Your Strengths
Lead your life from your strengths. They’ll provide the courage and confidence needed to overcome the challenges life places before you.
Key # 9: Surrender
Surrender is about accepting what is in the moment. Surrender releases the grip of the ego and increases your awareness, so you can make the changes needed to create a new reality.
Key #10: Embrace Change
Don’t avoid change. It’s what helps you grow mentally and spiritually.
Key #11: Seek A Peaceful Life
When you’re committed to creating a peaceful life, you live life from the heart and the anxieties of the past fade away.
Key #12: Look for Something You Love in Every Experience
Love neutralizes inner conflict. It diffuses power struggles and minimizes feelings of compromise. Love is a soul awakener.
Exercises: Being in the Present Moment
- Take present moment breaks throughout the day. Observe how you’re feeling. Pay attention to what your thoughts are focused on. Notice if your mind is racing from one thought to another. Pay attention to if your thoughts are fixating and ruminating on a familiar problem. Tell your mind to think about something else.
- Practice learning to witness your mind from a distance. See it sitting on a park bench by itself. Observe if it’s comfortable or uncomfortable. Is it looking around as if trying to find something? Does it want to keep jumping up? Pay attention to what you see, what you hear, and how you feel as you watch it. Now ask your mind to be still. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel? Ask your mind to be open and receptive to change. What do you see? What do you hear? What do you feel?
- Other present moment activities include meditation, yoga, mindfulness, HeartMath™, and mindful breathing. They all effectively quiet the mind, and put you in the present moment. They connect you to your heart and to your soul.
Remember if you are depressed, you are living in the past.
If you are anxious, you are living in the future.
If you are at peace, you are living in the present.
– Lao Tzu