Many of us in the West have a hard time understanding what is meant by existing in the present moment. You are reading this right now, so where else could you be but in the present?
Eastern masters and Gestalt psychologists would reply that of course you’re here, but you’re probably not fully here. Next time you have a chance to eavesdrop on a conversation make a mark in your head for every time you hear a comment that is either vertically about the past or future or horizontally in a place outside of the concrete situation. We talk about our jobs, our projects and interests, our upcoming vacations, results of sporting events, or political and philosophical beliefs to name just a few, without realizing that we are running away from the here and now.
Our entire lives take place in the present yet we constantly sacrifice the fullness of the moment for some other time or place. If you want to do a fun experiment with your romantic partner or a friend see how long you can both go without shifting the focus of your conversation from where and when you are. Becoming more aware of your five senses- auditory, visual, olfactory, tactile, and gustatory- will give you a huge assist. Go to a busy restaurant or bar and comment on what you are seeing and hearing around you, the flavors and textures of your beverages and food, and the sensations you are feeling in your bodies. Talk about the thoughts and emotions that arise as they occur and always bring them back to how they make you feel in the immediate moment.
No one can exist fully in the moment all the time but think of the happiest and most meaningful experiences of your life and try to convince yourself you weren’t living fully in the present. This is the reason to practice mindfulness more in your daily life. It connects you to yourself and your surroundings in a more intense and meaningful way. You stop feeling bored or jaded and start to regain some of the magic that makes life beautiful and worthwhile. For babies and young children everything is extraordinary and exciting and that’s because they are masters of meditation without even having to try. They are not concerned with the past or the future, but in what is going on right in front of them. Being mindful is not about sitting in silence in a meditation hall, it is about existing fully in the moment for all your daily activities and interactions. Becoming more mindful as an adult is at bottom recapturing a state of being that you already know intimately but have forgotten.