Last updated December, 2019.
Before you scroll down...we keep this site ad-free for our readers. If you get value from what we write, please consider supporting us by checking out our 15-day meditation challenge: "Your inner narrative".
It's time for another installment of "Question and Answer Tuesdays!"
"When you discuss mindfulness, you talk about the present moment. What does it mean to be in the present moment? Aren't we by default always in the present moment?"
Yes, technically speaking, we are by default always in the present moment.
At least, your body is always in the present moment. The question is, where is your mind?
Your mind has a tendency to do one of three things:
There are several problems with not being present. First, you aren't focused on the task at hand. At least part of your attention (sometimes a major part) is focused on something that isn't actually happening. As a result, your time and energy are not being fully utilized here and now.
Second, you cause yourself to suffer. Some of the suffering is obvious: dwelling on the past leads to regret and depression, worrying about the future leads to stress and anxiety.
What about daydreaming and fantasizing, though? How is that bad?
You are creating an alternate reality for yourself - a reality that you deem more desirable than your current situation. You are rejecting the present moment - but, at some point, you have to return to it. And when you do, you probably aren't going to be happy.
The bottom line is here and now is the only place you can ever experience life!
Watch yourself for the rest of the day and see where your mind takes you. Are you focused on the present moment? Or, are you in the past, future, or some alternate reality?
The good news is, when you cultivate mindfulness (strengthen awareness) you ground yourself in the present moment. You spend less time regretting, worrying, and fearing. You spend less time filled with stress and anxiety. And, you focus your attention and efforts on what you are doing now:
Whatever you are doing, be completely present with it.
The more time you spend in the present moment, the more you realize that happiness, peace, and contentment isn't something you find "out there." To the contrary, it's all right here and now. You just need lo learn to focus your attention on it, and quit getting caught up in the stories of your mind.
"Your inner narrative"
How do I just “let things be”?
“Your thoughts about the situation cause you to suffer more than the situation itself” — what does that even mean?
How do I get proper instruction in meditation and mindfulness?
“Your inner narrative” — our 15 day meditation challenge — answers all these questions (click here to read about it).