I once spent a weekend at a Buddhist retreat, where the theme was “Being Present.” It was a wonderful time and an awakening experience. I knew the importance of being here now. My life was extremely busy, and my mind was in the past, thinking about something I did wrong (and replaying the moment over and over), or it was focused on the future (obsessing about something that had not yet happened and might never happen). I was rarely in the moment…in the present.
While focusing on the things I was doing in the present…at that moment at the retreat…helped me become more aware, and helped me bring my focus back to that moment.
One of the things we practiced Mindfulness on was eating; focusing 100% on chewing the food in my mouth: tasting it, feeling the texture, chewing each mouthful at least 200 times before swallowing it. Each time my mind drifted, I’d bring it back to what I was doing in the moment. We practiced this with breathing and walking, as well, among other things. I couldn’t believe how hard it was for me to practice the present while walking. I felt each muscle I used while I slowly put one foot in front of the other.
This really helped me to be more present in situations such as conversations, being in relationships, working on projects, etc. I still practicing being present while driving. It is so easy to be distracted while driving with billboards, signs, and, now, cell phones.
Certainly there are benefits to being present. Being present will bring you more awareness, which, in turn, will bring you more happiness in certain situations. Being able to fully experience a wonderful moment, such as a wedding…sharing an intimate moment with someone…engaging in conversation, etc., will undoubtedly allow you to enjoy it that much more.
How many times do we rush through a meal and hardly taste it? There are days that we allow to just blow by us. I guarantee that you’ll enjoy food that much more if you take the time to appreciate it, or take time in the day to breathe and enjoy that moment, feel the gratitude of being able to do all the things you are accomplishing.
Let’s face it. We create a lot of our own anxiety and stress. We’re thinking about something that has already occurred, feeling resentful about it or feeling unable to let it go, thus creating stress about something that we cannot change.
All we can do is change the present. But if we’re in the past, the present is passing us by; most likely causing more anxiety and stress. Or we are thinking about the future; about something that “might” happen. We become fearful about it and play different tapes in our head searching for better results. I’ve found out (and I’m sure it’s true for most of us) that over 95% of the things I used to let my mind take me for a ride about, never even come to be.
There are times I don’t want to be present, such as in a dentist’s chair. Being present might not always be appropriate, so do use discretion.
Being in the Present is all about being here now…within creation. Witnessing… experiencing feeling…all that is happening now.
And all that is happening now has a beginning and an end. It is of creation.
Being in the Presence is about allowing ourselves to witness Source/God in that which we are and all that we see. Seeing Source’ Essence is not of this world. It is of eternity. It is not finite as being Present is, but it is infinite…without boundaries, i.e., limitless.
Nothing short of the direct experience of God/Source will ever satisfy our need for wholeness, fulfillment and completion.
But the experience of the Presence will never fade or be lost. It will always be a fulfilling and bring peace.
So how does one Practice the Presence?
There are so many ways. Each path has its own particular ways, but all paths have the basics, e.g., prayer and meditation. There are so many different forms of meditation that books have been written about them and, of course, there are different prayers for different people.
Meditation, prayer, chanting, service, observance and contemplating are some of the ways I have practiced being in The Presence.
Meditation is going within, focusing on our Light (our Source); praying is repeating words or songs/hymns in private or public; chanting is repeating the names of God or a mantra in a group or privately…out loud or in silence; serving is helping and serving others who are immersed in God’s work, e.g., washing dishes, gardening, etc., while keeping your mind on God; observing is keeping the Holy days sacred; and contemplating is always thinking of God in all that we do.
In my case, meditation was the key to helping me slow down and witness the feelings, witness the actions and, most importantly, not be judgmental or overshadowed by them. When I was able to be in that place, I began to see and feel the Presence more and more in all things in my life.
This article originally appeared at selfgrowth.com