Recently I have been thinking about being present and my newsletters have reflected this. I have touched on why we tend to (seemingly unconsciously) retreat from the present moment and the mechanism of the mind and its processes. I have talked about ‘the circling thoughts’ and ‘negative thinking’ sneaking-up on us like a pride of lions stalking healthy prey; and ‘Plato’s Cave’ which highlights the importance of experiencing the world from another perspective by not being bound by the chains of our conditioning. In summary, I’ve tried to highlight the importance of accepting the moment as it is presented to you HERE and NOW.
But why? Why make the effort to be present? I think Helen Mallicoat provides part of the answer:
I was regretting the past and fearing the future.
Suddenly, my Lord was speaking: "My name is I AM"
He paused.I waited.
He continued:"When you live in the past, with its mistakes and regrets, it is hard. I am not there. My name is not – I WAS.
When you live in the future, with its problems and fears, it is hard. I am not there. My name is not – I WILL BE.
When you live in this moment, it is not hard. I am here. My name is I AM."
Think of this without any religious nuance, the reference to ‘my Lord’ is me! And in simple terms the implication is that life easier in the present moment, you’re not thinking about the past or future; and if you extend this to not thinking about other distractions you’ll truly understand what I mean by ‘being present’.
But what are the benefits of becoming more mindful or actually more mindless? Why not just allow the mind to wonder like dandelion seed in the wind? Here’s why …
A massive stress buster: if you think about your anxieties, they usually boil down to what has happened and what will happen; if you forgo these worries because there is nothing you can do about the past and you have little control over the future you’ll be more able to deal with the present. If there is something you want to achieve, stop stressing over it and take action – procrastination, as the saying goes, is the thief of time. Make a list, take action and move on!
REALLY enjoy the beauty around: we are surrounded by beauty. Flowers in bloom, the sound of rain pitter-pattering on your window, the myriad of beautiful colours around us; so much of life exudes beauty. If you stop for a moment, smell the earth after rainfall, or simply admire the shades of green in the park, or listen to chirping of birds without any judgments or labeling you’ll experience a new world. Like a child observes curiously and discovers reality without being bound by the chains of preconditioning.
Improved social skills: being present helps to develop social skills. When you are surrounded by a group of people, or even in a one-to-one situation, and your circling thoughts worry about what others might think about what you might say or you’re thinking beyond the present moment into a possible future, you stop fully partaking in the conversation. However, when you are being present you are truly there in the moment, not just hearing, but actually listening, and this allows you to respond with a greater degree of clarity. Imagine the positive vibe you project and the appreciation you are more likely to receive in return.
Improved creativity: a creative project such as writing, painting or cooking requires a certain kind of flow, and if you think too much, distracting yourself from the present moment you dam the current. Dropping extraneous analysis allows creativity to blossom.
Brings Openness: there is a sense of release when you stop labeling and judging, because you experience life for what it is without preconceived notions – you are freed from the chains of your personal Plato’s Cave. You become open to new possibilities and that leads to an expansion of your true potential.
I think James Allen sums this up nicely (from his 1902 essay “As a Man Thinketh”)
“Cherish your visions.
Cherish your ideals.
Cherish the music that stirs in your heart, the beauty that forms in your mind, the loveliness that drapes your purest thoughts.
For out of them will grow all delightful conditions, all heavenly environment, of these, if you but remain true to them, your world will at last be built.”