Not living in the present has been described as a person who stands looking to the left at the past with the right eye. At the same time they’re also looking right at the future with their left eye. Ultimately, they end up standing in the present moment, cross-eyed.
When you ponder on the past you live with regrets or concerns about what happened and you’re powerless to do anything about it. When you’re worried about the future you fret and worry over what hasn’t happened and you can’t do anything about that, either.
It’s not where you want to live, trust me.
So, choose to live in the present. Because your ego can’t survive when you live in the present moment. However, if you constantly living in the past or the future, the ego is always present, clouding your judgement with emotions and worry. Being present allows the ego to dissolve and go away. Living in the now is like doing an awake meditation. It comes from practice. You catch yourself and say, “Wow! I’m in the present moment right now.”
In his book “Peace in the Present Moment,” Eckhart Tolle, the guru of living in the now, says, “If you’re at peace you’re living in the present.”
Just before digging into this chapter I was driving. My mind was going in many different directions flashing back and forth to various times of my life from the past. It was so bizarre, as if I was reliving my past. Kiddingly I thought, maybe I’m getting close to death.
My thoughts were literally pinging with instances from my life reminding me of events that aren’t necessarily in alignment with how I live today. The experience was definitely rattling my cage and I could feel my emotions being impacted.
I thought maybe my mind is cleaning house, getting rid of extra junk that’s still hanging around. I hadn’t thought about most of those events in years. Some past experiences were vivid, banging around in my head over and over. They were brought to the surface and then I mentally did my best to toss them out.
Rather than going away, they lingered. I found myself wondering, why am I brooding over this stupid stuff from my past, years ago? In some of those flashes from my past they were of me as a boy, not even 12 years old.
It was strange to me that those events could still effect my emotions and bring me down as they popped up. The truth is I let them do it. I certainly wasn’t living in the present while I was mulling over these experiences, letting myself get caught up in negative feelings.
As I realized what I was doing, I stopped and said to myself “I’m okay right now.” Saying this reminded me to return to the present and to stop thinking about the past or worry about the future.
I did some research on the notion of being present and I discovered something drawn from the Bible called “The Jesus Attitudes.” It suggests we adopt a mindset or attitude of three emotions which have a lot to do with being present:
Nothing to hide.
Nothing to prove.
Nothing to lose.
By practicing these three attitudes you will grow accustomed to living in the present moment.
Why is being present important? It puts you in a mindset that’s open, joyful and keeps your eyes open and aware. Living in the present you’re more likely to have better memory and greater clarity. You comprehend more clearly. Being present is also a way to respect and validate others.
Many people spend little time listening. Instead they try to figure out what they’ll say in response as you talk to them, which removes them from the present moment. That’s the ego stepping in, trying to one up the person they’re supposed to be with in conversation.
Ego replies with, “This is what I think” and passes judgment. Contrast that to when you’re in the present moment. It’s difficult to be critical or disapproving because you’re actually listening. You’re less likely to judge because you’re not thinking about your past experiences or future worries. You’re listening to the other person in the now.