In the last few days one of our readers asked me to talk a bit more about being in the moment. They wanted some suggestions about how to be in the moment. So here is that explanation. Let’s go!
True self is always in the moment
In the last few weeks we have discussed at length the ideas of true self and false self. The link to being in the moment is whether or not we are acting from true self or accepting the unhappiness of false self.
When we are operating from true self we are in the moment. You might ask “how will I know when that happens?” Here are a few ways to recognize that you are in the moment.
The most important way to recognize that you are in the moment is that you are absolutely peaceful and calm. You are so calm that you do not really care what happens. Deep inside you know that whatever happens is just fine because you know that you can handle it. You know that the choices you make are the correct choices and that all you need to do is take the appropriate steps and you will accomplish anything you choose to do.
Another way to recognize when you are in the moment is that you do not notice the passage of time. Whatever you are doing, you have become so involved that you do not realize that several hours have passed.
I heard a good example of this recently. Leonard Bernstein, the conductor and composer, was recounting a time when he was conducting a symphonic performance. He said that he stepped on the podium and began conducting. The next thing he remembered was the applause at the end of the event. He had been in the moment so deeply that several hours had passed without him realizing that passage.
Have you ever noticed yourself watching your thoughts or actions? Whether you realized it or not you were being the “observer”. There are many spiritual and religious practices that discuss the idea of observation as a way to self mastery.
For me, observation is the key to really learning how to be in the moment. We will discuss observation at greater length tomorrow. For now just note that whenever you step outside of yourself for the shortest instant and see yourself from a different perspective you are in the moment. When you catch that glimpse congratulate yourself for that achievement and begin to recognize the feeling, and then repeat this as often as possible.
False self is never in the moment
By definition, false self can never be in the moment. That is why it is false self. False self is the place where we experience all the things that we do not want to be. Let’s take a look at a few characteristics of false self and why that is not being in the moment.
First of all, whenever we are not happy we are not in the moment. False self has a myriad of excuses that it decides are reasons for not being happy. It does not have the possessions that it wants so it is unhappy. It was awakened in the middle of the night so it is upset that it did not get enough sleep. And here is the big one. Someone burned its toast this morning so it must be upset all day about that insult.
Why are these things not being in the moment? Let’s take a closer look at a few of these examples. See if you can spot the pattern.
When false self does not think that it has the possessions that it should have it is actually envisioning another time. In that envisioned time period false self has the big house, the expensive car, the beautiful clothes that it thinks it should have now. False self does not have those possessions at this moment and it senses a disconnect. It also senses the possibility that it might never get those possessions. False self becomes unhappy until it either finds something new about which to feel unhappy or we get back in the moment.
If false self is awakened and is upset because it did not get enough sleep it is actually envisioning a time when it should get the sleep it “needs.” It is convinced that it needs eight hours of undisturbed sleep. When it is disturbed it compares this vision of the current situation with the idealized time. It wants to be in the idealized time and gets upset because the current time does not match it.
Once again false self decides that it needs to be upset. That upset can last for a few minutes, hours, or days. The upset will last until it finds something it views as more important to get upset with or true self takes over and we get back in the moment.
Finally, let’s look at what happens when someone burns the toast that false self had planned to eat for breakfast. This egregious affront to false self causes it to think back on all the previous meals it enjoyed when the toast was prepared properly. Once again, the envisioned time frame does not match the current experience.
For the rest of the day false self takes this perceived injury out on everyone it meets. It yells at its fellow commuters. It is sullen with its co-workers. When it gets home it yells at the children. It was unhappy all day because of some burned toast.
Did you see the pattern here? It was the false self putting itself in another time period and comparing it to the current experience. That is the definition of not being in the moment. The idealized time period will never match the current experience, yet false self never ceases attempting to make it match.
When our concentration is not on the current experience, by definition we are not in the moment. True self concentrates completely on the current experience and endeavors to understand that situation. True self does not care about a future or past time period. True self knows that when we concentrate completely on what is going on NOW everything else will take care of itself.
Eckhart Tolle has done some excellent work with teaching people to be in the moment. That work might help you as it has helped me. Please check our resource page for more information.
That is all for today. Tomorrow we will look at a few tips for learning to be in the moment.
Until tomorrow –
Es kava turen hai
We work towards an identical goal.
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