Bringing yourself back to the present moment

The Buddha said I teach one thing and one thing only: that is suffering and the end of suffering

Eckhart Tolle said Spiritual awakening is awakening from the dream of thought

Wayne Dyer said Avoiding the present moment is almost a disease in our culture, and we are continually being conditioned to sacrifice the present for the future. Carried to its logical conclusion, this attitude is not merely the avoidance of enjoyment in the now, but an evasion of happiness forever.

Richard Carlson said Stop Thinking & Start Living

Byron Katie said When you argue with reality you lose but only 100% of the time

Yogananda said You dont need to seek understanding outside yourself everything you want to know exists within yourself

Jean Klein said Living is to be found in the timeless now

David Hawkins said The true source of joy and happiness is the realization of ones existence in this very moment These are just a few quotes from the many great teachers past and present. There are hundreds more. There is a common thread running through every spiritual teaching that has ever come into existenceand ever will do. And it is a simple one. The common thread is living in the present moment.

Barry Long sums it up in four words:

Only now is real

A very simple message and yet it is all too easy to become distracted away from the present moment. It may be something on the outside that distracts you, or it may be a thought. Try carrying those four words of Barry Long with you as you go about your day and see what a difference it makes to your life experience.

Only now is real

Almost instantly you will begin to notice your surroundings more deeply and by enhancing your senses, start to appreciate or re-appreciate the beauty and simplicity of this present moment. Look for colours, shapes and sounds. Notice your breathing; notice also the gaps in sounds brief moments of quiet between noise and thought.

Only now is real

If you wish, write it on a piece of card and carry the card with you to read as a prompt to remind you. Or, if you favour memory techniques perhaps create a visual image in your mind that reminds you to come back to this present moment. Then, each time you see that image it will jog your memory. Examples might be clouds or sky. There are more tips for present moment awareness later.

When attending to any task are you fully focused on the task or is your mind wandering onto other areas to such a degree that the task in hand isnt really getting your full attention? External distractions can be remedied fairly easily through action. If you are distracted by a thought or thoughts however, it can be tougher to break through the distractions and focus on this one present moment and whatever you are doing in it.

Losing the present moment causes many accidents! I wonder if one day, insurance companies will ask you if you lost the present moment just prior to slamming into a stationary object. It may be that one day losing the present moment will no longer be a valid excuse for errors or insurance claims?

There are a few simple exercises and techniques which can help you come back to the present moment. The Stop Thinking Tips Mind Map explores ways to reduce incessant thinking and take control of your thoughts. Check out the suggested reading below for some great books that expand on present moment awareness and happiness.

Here is an excerpt from an article by Eckhart Tolle called How to Stay in the Present Moment

Inhabit the body.
Sense the aliveness that is in the body.
This takes your attention away from thought.
The practice of physical movements such as Tai Chi helps.
Sensing the body becomes an anchor for staying present in the now.

Make it your practice to welcome this moment, no matter what form it takes.
Say yes to whatever is now.
There is only one moment, but different forms of it.
The secret is not to resist these forms.
Surrendering to the forms that arise takes you to the formless in yourself.
You then sense a spaciousness around whatever happens in your life.
People, events, situations, objects come and go.
Being in the now moment liberates you from form, from the world.
With that liberation comes enormous peace.

What Tolle says about inhabiting the body is simple to experience.

As you sit there, stop reading briefly and sense the life in your hands or any other body part right this minute. You could instead focus your attention on the air passing in and out of your lungs.
Notice also that as you do so, your thoughts stop.

See the Stop Thinking Tips Mind Map for more.

As you sense the life in your body you may detect a buzz or feeling of life inside you. This is a brilliant way to come back to the present moment because you can do it anytime.

Initially it can take some getting your head around the realization that only this one present moment exists. It is not a denial of yesterday or the past or of your memories, thoughts and experiences. It is not a denial of what is coming tomorrow or next week or next year.

What it is is simply realising that when you were living yesterday or last year, it was the present moment and when you are living tomorrow it will also be the present moment.

It takes a while for this realization to truly sink in and once it does you will always realise it; the change will be permanent, yet you will also be able to slip away from this present moment at times as it is the nature of the brain to think and make thoughts.

This forgetting of the present moment is only temporary and only thought-based. So, when you lose the present moment, all that is really happening is your thoughts are wandering; you most likely havent moved anywhere; you havent actually moved away from this present moment at all at least physically.

Often a shock or accident wakes your senses up to this present moment and it is this alertness that grounds you in the now. Animals live in the present moment to watch an animal you can see that they are totally immersed in what they are doing; they havent got an identity and they arent playing from memory. The next time you see a dog sitting patiently waiting for its owner to return you could be witnessing a Zen master!

Notice the alert attention and the patience to simply wait. Notice also the speed with which animals operate birds are a brilliant example; could you fly through the trees and twist and turn as quickly as they do? Fantastic agility and finesse.

You may wish to get yourself a drink and return fresh before reading the final section.

The following is adapted from Right Now by Ken McLeod

© Ken McLeod Reproduced with kind permission.

NOW is all you have.

Imagine you are going to die in one minutes time.

This is your last experience, reading this, wearing what you have on, thinking, feeling and seeing what you are thinking, feeling and seeing right now.
This is it the end of your life.

There is no time to write a note or make a phone call you will die in one minute.

All you can do is experience what is, right NOW.

You stop fighting, you stop needing, you forget physical comfort, you stop wanting, and you stop achieving.

Enlightenment, attainment, realisation, all become meaningless.

You are just present; here, NOW.

NOW is all you have.

Further reading:

The Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Practising the Power of Now by Eckhart Tolle

Stillness Speaks by Eckhart Tolle

A New Earth by Eckhart Tolle

Stop Thinking & Start Living by Richard Carlson

Being Happy by Andrew Matthews

Taming Your Gremlin by Rick Carson

Loving What is by Byron Katie

See also: Recognising the Present Moment

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