Being Present is No Easy Task
Updated: Aug 5, 2019
Babies like you and I once were, are pure minded beings when born and as young infants. They have no memory of the future and really have no past. They also have no concept of time. They moan and cry when they need changing, ready for eating, want comfort of a cuddle and generally things that do not involve time.
Everything that our mind , the brain, knows it learned through our senses. Everything that our very powerful computer learns is from Touch, Smell, Site, Hearing or Taste. It logs labels to things that you interact with according to what your senses tell it.
Unless you have never had one before, you know that when you pick up an Orange, for example, what its going to smell like, feel like, peel like even taste like before you even pick it up. You walk to the fridge or fruit bowl normally with intention on eating that Orange. You have already communicated to the brain this is what you want. So your brain brings into play all that it knows about that Orange from past experiences learned from your senses before you even pick it up. Saliva glands will start to produce saliva releasing digestive enzymes ready for this event of eating and enjoying that Orange.
Here is the problem. We don't think about this when we start to peel and eat the Orange. Sure, we taste it, but we are so thinking about other things, that our mind is not on the task at hand....Eating the Orange. We are what I call "Program Eating". Your subconscious mind is doing the eating. The bigger part of the mind.
Approximately 90% of your mind is Subconscious and the other 10% is your conscious mind. The subconscious mind is what is eating the Orange with some Conscious mind thrown in. When we Mindfully, (being Present or in the Now), eat the Orange, it's a whole different experience. The first time I did this, I couldn't believe what type of experience it was. I have been watching a teaching DVD on Mindfulness where I was stepped through eating a tangerine. I hadn't really eaten a Tangerine until I ate it with Mindfulness. You can put Mindful eating to any food. Wherever you are too. It could be a fine dining restaurant, to just getting yourself a bite from a street vendor. When you bring yourself to the Now of whats happening, things become so much clearer.
Being present is not just about when you eat. It's about your every day living. When you are present in the moment with your daily life, you change our outlook. When your mind stays present and in the Now, you're not thinking past or future. When you notice your mind has come off task and its floating around in the past or future, you now run the risk of Depression (memory in the past) or Anxiety (Memory in the future). Just gently, without judgment, bring it back to Now and on task.
Have you ever been driving a car and all of the sudden you don't remember the last 5 min of the drive your taking? Wonder how you did not have an accident? First, your mind came off track. It was no longer in the present moment of driving. Your subconscious mind was doing the driving because, like I said before, it learned to drive through repetition. You were fully focused when you first stepped into a car though, right?! I know mine was.
I learned with a stick-shift in England. I remember thinking, "How am I going to remember all this?" Matching your speed to the gear that your in. Shifting gears to the situation that your in. Then using the clutch to shift that gear but without staling. All the while, looking at your surrounding and making sure you are safe and everybody around you is safe.
There is a lot to driving a car, but throw in a stick shift into it and there is even more to think about. Park on a steep hill with a stick shift and have to pull away on the hill. I Remember doing this thinking, "Oh boy don't roll backwards." So you have to have your speed just right, raise the clutch until you feel it has to move then smoothly, increase your speed, raising your clutch in while in 1st gear, and hopefully pull away smoothly without hitting anything.
First time....trust me, you are present, if not a bit anxious, with it. But over time, all this becomes so easy, that it becomes like the eating. You do it without even thinking because your subconscious mind does it for you. So the 5 min that you missed driving, I would say, is a miracle in itself. You were just driving unconscious in mind. You were not focused. Again and again we do this.
Let's not forget all the other distractions. What about that phone you keep checking? You hear a bing or signal for an email or text and you make Driving a Vehicle less priority and the phone the main priority. We all do it or have done at some point. Don't look at your partner and point fingers. Its a huge risk. You will come straight to reality if you hit something or worse somebody. Was checking your phone worth it then? You don't care about your phone now the action has happened. All because you were not in the NOW with your driving.
Have you ever walked into a room to do something and all of the sudden can't remember what you walked in there for? Same thing....mind on past or future. Ever read a book or magazine and had to go back an re-read a section because all of the sudden things are not making sense? Your mind was not focused on the now. It wondered off.
Now the big thing here is also not to beat yourself up when the mind does come off track. Your mind will. It's what it does. It works to keep you safe. By calling yourself names or beating yourself up because of your mind basically just programs your subconscious mind to believe it. "Oh what an idiot". "Well that was a messed up thing to do" and so on you may tell yourself. Now you have just added a label to yourself for the thinking which you will keep doing now because you are programming your mind to do that. Remember the baby? The baby does not tell itself anything but wanting to be safe, eat and sleep. Be the baby. Keep your mind clear on the present and task at hand.
When you talk to somebody, are you present? Give the person your full attention. What type of features do they have? Color of eyes? Color of hair? Where are they from? Are they from the local area or another country? Listen with intent. Have interest in what they have to say, not what you want to say. When you are focused on what you want to say, you are not listening to them and what they are saying. What are their actions telling you? (Body language, expressions on the face) Have a complete interest in who is standing before you. Another unique human being just like you. It can be somebody you have never met before. A good friend. A family member or even a child. Remember, children up to a certain age are taking in huge amounts of programming. They haven't experienced life like you have. The computer in their head is grabbing all the info it can. So explain things at their level. But give full, in the NOW attention. Be a listener not so much a speaker. You can learn from all kinds of people no matter who they are. You can learn from them and they can learn from you.
So here is a challenge. Next time you speak to somebody be attentive. The cashier at the store. The mate that just called you to see how things are. The child that's asking how something works. Your spouse or partner that needs a hug and somebody to listen. The list goes on. Show you care by being present with them. Don't pick up your phone in a conversation or watch TV If you are doing something at the time. Put that on pause and give full attention. If its something that can not wait, say something like "I want to give you my full attention, give me 5 min and then i can listen." But stick to it. Once the task is done, put everything down and listen. Not only is this going to make you feel good, but the other person too.
You are telling them that what they have to say is real important to you but you want to give them you full focus. Stick to your word. When you don't, it can have the opposite effect on the person. It tells them they are not important. Or at least what they have to say is not important to you. Giving somebody your full attention makes for better relationships. Everybody gets heard, and a lot happier life can be had. So stick with the challenge. See how it feels. My anxiety goes crazy in situations of "strange" people. I use the word strange loosely. It's more people that I don't know. But I also have started telling myself, "If I don't go to meet people and have these conversations, I'm the one missing out on beautiful beings, from all different walks of life, that can become good friends.
What I have talked about here about the present or the NOW is not the end by any means, and I'm sure I will be posting more along the way on this very deep subject. There are some great books out there on the subject. Some that I have read I will post on the site at some stage. Worth the read.
Being in the now is the best way to live.