MOMENTS IN THE PRESENT TENSE
Updated: Mar 29, 2019
“I have a great many troubles, but most of them never happened.”
- Mark Twain
A couple of days ago before it got cold here, I was spending the day working on business issues and feeling very down due to personal and health issues when I looked out the window. There was a beautiful monarch butterfly eating on my flowers. I watched as she slowly opened and shut her wings while she munched on flowers. Her wings were perfect. She was big and beautiful. I live in the part of the country where the monarch migrates through on their trip to Mexico for hibernation. This monarch brought me many thoughts. As I watched the monarch, my primary thought was, this is what Eckhart Tolle along with other authors and speakers talk about when they mention living in the present moment.
I had been standing alone in my dining room feeling morose and wondering how I could be spending the later years of my life in such a lonely place. Then I saw the monarch outside my window. As I watched the monarch eat, move, and slowly close and open her wings I was totally engrossed watching her. I realized that we are guests in this world, guests in the bodies we inhabit, and here, we either live in place in the present, a sequence of moments, or we lose our moments to worry, sadness, or fear about the past or a future that isn’t even real. As Mark Twain’s quote says, we have a great many troubles, but most never happen. Our worries, our fears, they consume us unless we start to work toward living in this moment, this time, this tense.
Watching the monarch, I was in the present moment or the present tense. I think of it as being in the present tense and the fact that in those moments, “I am”. I’m not running, and my mind is not running around flying here, there, and everywhere chattering all the time. I am. I am with all my being present, seeing, watching and admiring that beautiful monarch.
Now you may ask me why are you writing about this monarch butterfly? Well, when the cold came a friend found one injured on my driveway, then after the first freeze I saw one again. I took these as a message. To me they were a sign. Butterflies are studies in Transformation. There is a message here in these incidents reminding me to live in the present watching and listening in the present tense. I was reminded not to spend my times and days battling the future fears and the past failures. We have only now. Living in the now is being mindful.
A person is mindful when they are neither zoned out and not present, nor are they too in their head and not present. I can be guilty of both. Most of us can. In order to develop our mindfulness, to develop our time in the present tense, we each must take time alone, present, and awake. The initial idea would be to start taking a few minutes a day in meditation, walking, or other exercise… whatever works for you where your mind quiets and thoughts just are. That’s it. That’s mindfulness. It is being. It is allowing. It is not focusing so hard to try to be mindful that you’re in your mind anxious and listening to it chatter.
There are different types of meditations that all fall within the category of mindfulness. For example, let’s talk about breathing. Deep, regular breathing is a form of meditation. Here you breathe slowly and deeply and observe your breath. As a thought comes you recognize it, let it go and breathe. This is a simple but effective meditation designed to bring you to the present tense.
There are numerous types of meditation. Researchers at the Max Planck Institute recruited adults who hadn’t meditated before to participate in mindfulness training. Here they taught four types of meditation:
· Breathing meditation: As mentioned above this is a practice where you focus your attention on the sensations of breathing.
· Body scan: A practice where you focus on each individual body part in turn, from head to toe.
· Loving-Kindness meditation: A practice deigned to foster positive feelings of love and care, initially toward a close loved one and then extended to yourself, others, and eventually the whole world.
· Observing-thought meditation: A practice that teaches you to notice as thoughts arise, label them—for instance, as positive or negative, focused on yourself or others—but avoid getting absorbed in them.
Each of these types of meditation can help you have more positive feelings. These are certainly not the only types of mediation. When I was younger, I practiced transcendental meditation. There are others. Most of the meditations occur while sitting. Joe Dispenza, however, has developed and sells on his website walking meditations.
There is conscious mindfulness like I had watching the monarch. How do you do that? I believe initially it’s important to see that you are not your thoughts. We’ve talked before about this issue before in Songs of Life https://www.coachinglifetransition.com/blog/songs-of-life
. You can observe your thoughts. Second, know that when your mind starts to ruminate in the past set something like taking a deep breath, release the thoughts, and bring yourself back to the present. Third, if you have trouble panicking or worrying about the future, then take another cue, perhaps focusing on the moment, release the future thoughts and bring yourself back to the present.
The present tense, or the present moment, is a kind and loving feeling of being precisely in the moment. During these moments, we see more clearly, hear the stillness, and acknowledge our thoughts then release them to the Universe. This is conscious mindfulness. It can be sitting, standing, walking, or exercising.
There is an interesting concept called Flow developed by Mihaly Csikszentmihalyi co-founder of Positive Psychology. Flow is a state of mind. Flow may occur during times of creativity such as, if you are a cook, while you are concentrating and cooking a lovely romantic meal. Flow may occur when you are playing your guitar and lose track of time. Flow may occur while you are exercising, painting, sewing, acting, reading, or working at a specific task… flow is that state of mind we find when our focus is narrowed and totally on our task.
A state in which people are so involved in an activity that nothing else seems to matter; the experience is so enjoyable that people will continue to do it … for the sheer sake of doing it.”
– Csikszentmihalyi, 1990
This concept of Flow fits within the general category of mindfulness. Flow is creative mindfulness. So, in my way of thought we have the general category mindfulness and many parts such as meditation, being in the present moment or present tense, and creative mindfulness or flow.
Whether you exercise and find yourself in flow or whether you’re sitting in your meditation room doing deep breathing, these activities cam bring a level of peace and tranquility into your life. As the holidays approach and life becomes frantic, I suggest finding ways to be mindful. Bring yourself to the present tense so you can enjoy the moment, the day, the time, the feelings, and the joys of the Present.