In her memoir Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert writes about a friend who, whenever she sees a beautiful place, exclaims in a near panic, “It’s so beautiful here! I want to come back here someday!” “It takes all my persuasive powers,” writes Gilbert, “to try to convince her that she is already here.”
Often, we’re so trapped in thoughts of the future or the past that we forget to experience, let alone enjoy, what’s happening right now. We sip coffee and think, “This is not as good as what I had last week.” We eat a cookie and think, “I hope I don’t run out of cookies.”
Instead, relish or luxuriate in whatever you’re doing at the present moment—what psychologists call savoring. “This could be while you’re eating a pastry, taking a shower, or basking in the sun.
When people in a study took a few minutes each day to actively savor something they usually hurried through—eating a meal, drinking a cup of tea, walking to the bus—they began experiencing more joy, happiness, and other positive emotions, and fewer depressive symptoms.
Why does living in the moment make people happier—not just at the moment they’re tasting molten chocolate pooling on their tongue, but lastingly? Because most negative thoughts concern the past or the future. As Mark Twain said, “I have known a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.” The hallmark of depression and anxiety is catastrophizing—worrying about something that hasn’t happened yet and might not happen at all. Worry, by its very nature, means thinking about the future—and if you hoist yourself into awareness of the present moment, worrying melts away.
The flip side of worrying is ruminating, thinking bleakly about events in the past. And again, if you press your focus into the now, rumination ceases. Savoring forces you into the present, so you can’t worry about things that aren’t there.
FYI ladies and gentlemen, our mode of consciousness can be transformed! The key to becoming free of the egoic mind, with all its consequences, is to become deeply conscious of this present moment, or, as Eckhart Tolle often calls it, “the Now.” The consequences of being in the Now may also be traced out from his book.
Connectedness – In place of separation is a two-fold connectedness. To be present is to become reconnected both with Being itself, and with all other beings. Presence is a “state of felt oneness with Being … connectedness with something immeasurable and indestructible … that is essentially you and yet is much greater than you.” That in turn enables us to enter into deeper relationships with others. “Coming from Being, you will perceive another person’s body and mind as just a screen … behind which you can feel their true reality, as you feel yours … Compassion is the awareness of a deep bond between yourself and all creatures.”
Acceptance – Rather than resisting life as it actually is in the present moment, one accepts it for what it is, without labelling or judgment. “Allowing it to be as it is … takes you beyond the mind with its resistance patterns …”
Tolle speaks not only of acceptance of what is, but also of surrender to it. This “is the simple but profound wisdom of yielding to rather than opposing the flow of life … to surrender is to accept the present moment unconditionally and without reservation.”
This may easily be misunderstood, and Tolle goes on to explain that he is not suggesting anyone should accept for evermore some unpleasant situation in life. That is mere resignation. Surrender is a purely inner phenomenon, changing our attitude so we accept how things are at this moment. Then we can act positively to change the ongoing situation, and such positive action is likely to be far more effective than if it arose out of the anger, frustration or despair of resistance.
The Joy of Being – Instead of pain there is peace, stillness and joy. Instead of loss of Being there is reconnectedness with Being. Instead of external substitutes for joy there is an inner joy which is independent of external conditions. “As soon as you honor the present moment, all unhappiness and struggle dissolve, and life begins to flow with joy and ease.” “You abide in Being — unchanging, timeless, deathless — and you are no longer dependent for fulfilment or happiness on the outer world.”
- Beyond the Present Moment (onelightmanywindows.wordpress.com)
- To have reached an impasse in cognition (syncoroll.wordpress.com)
- Seeking Life Balance in Motherhood (joyofspa.com)