Everywhere I turn, I hear people dispensing the wonderful-sounding advice to be in the moment. This phrase is being tossed around so much that it’s become almost meaningless. What does it even mean to be in the moment?
Here’s what I’ve learned:
To be in the moment is to know what’s happening in your own mind in an open, accepting way. It’s not a bliss trip and it’s definitely not always pleasant. It’s not something you achieve once and then stay there forever. It’s a practice of waking up over and over again, coming out of your daydreams and fantasies and feeling, seeing, and knowing as much as you can what’s happening in your mind. While daydreaming isn’t being in the moment, becoming aware that you’ve been daydreaming is. And then, when we see what’s happening in our minds, we accept it with as much grace and kindness as we can, no matter what it is.
I know, this sounds too simple. Or it sounds too woo-woo. And we North Americans, being results-driven people, want to know what it will get us to practice being in the moment before we’ll even consider doing it. But you just have to try it and see what happens. And by “see what happens”, I mean over a long period of time. The Buddha himself said, “see for yourself”; he knew that the only way for people to learn moment-to-moment awareness was to practice it. There’s just no other way to get it.
Maybe it’s helpful to think of being in the moment as like being with yourself as you would be with your closest, dearest friend. The journeys we make with our friends aren’t always easy and aren’t always pleasant, but we hang in there and stay committed to our friends no matter what. We accept their quirks with kindness and love. Can we be this way with ourselves? Sure we can, but it takes practice, and a good dose of patience.
So just breathe, and please be kind to yourself!