THE PRESENT MOMENT
“THE PRESENT MOMENT IS FILLED WITH JOY AND HAPPINESS. IF YOU ARE ATTENTIVE, YOU WILL SEE IT.” – Thich Nhat Hanh
‘Everyone agrees it is important to live in the moment, but the problem is how’, says Ellen Langer, the author of Mindfulness. Living in the moment involves so many paradoxes, one of them is: the more you try to live in the moment, the harder it actually gets. I have been trying to practice living in the present for so many years, but I always caught myself either worrying about the future or getting lost in the sentimentality of the past. Simply, I have been constantly overthinking.
When I was studying for the exam, I would dream of a well-deserved vacation that came after that. When I was on vacation, I would be anxious, that I am not doing enough and instead I should be searching for a job. When I got that job, I would be stressing about being too lazy or tired to invest in my free time. Instead of focusing on the now; just study and pass that exam, just make the work done, just switch off and enjoy that vacation time, I would be worrying, dreaming, judging, stressing, planning. All of this takes away our focus from the present moment. But what actually is focusing and ‘living in the moment’ made of? I have been trying to understand it myself.
As simple it sounds, it has actually not been that straightforward in practice for me. I somehow managed to understand it for myself this way; we all have 24 hours in a day, it includes our full-time work, studies, whatever you have to do to take care of your living. Then for me, whatever the day brings, I always repeat the same things somewhere in between the job or other responsibilities; eating, drinking, walking, sitting, and relaxing.
I started to take one step at a time; when I drink my morning coffee, I focus on the smell, taste, and colour of my coffee; I do not think about what I have to do during the day. Then I move to another task of the day, work. I do my job, but when I have my lunch break, I chat with my colleagues and again focus on the taste, colours, and smell of the meal. Coming home from work? When biking, as usual, I observe the city vibe, other people commuting home, the colours of the trees, whatever it is that surrounds me. In the evening, I especially enjoy these 10 minutes of making a cup of tea and simply thinking about nothing else but that warm and tasty cup of tea I am preparing for myself.
Living in the present moment goes down to these most simple moments in our day. I am choosing to be all there, wherever I am, whatever I am doing, starting with my tea and coffee for now. Hopefully, by the time I retire, I will be able and conscious enough to put my full presence into every minute of my waking hours each day.