Our world is packed full of distractions. If you don’t believe me just take a moment to look around. It seems as though between the noise of cars, the chatter of people and the incessant beeping from electronics that there isn’t a moment of peace.
Even if you find a way to silence your environment in an attempt to chase after peace you quickly realize how insanely loud your thoughts are. If you do push the limits and manage to sit in this quiet place for a while you will notice your mind wandering to the past, start imagining a possible future, daydream, or even start playing your favorite movie.
So even in a physical place of peace and quiet, it seems as though the soul cannot rest because the mind and emotions cannot be still.
Why Does this Happen?
Well, that is the question isn’t it. I am going to state that one out by pointing out the fact that all of these things, the constant distractions are actually robbing us from one very important part of our life.
In fact, with each passing day, we are being robbed more and more of one of our most precious gifts: the present. What is so scary about this moment? This one right here?
Logically the present mind would have to say ‘I am not sure, things seem alright.’ Then the emotional mind often kicks in with 101 reasons why life is hard, painful, or even unbearable.
This dualistic answer within the self often triggers more distraction which we happily grab ahold of and disconnect from this moment yet again.
The Complexity of being Present
If we do manage to become present it feels like a fleeting moment before we realize we are gone once again. I would even say that the strength of will that it takes to remain fully present for more than 1 minute is something that the average untrained person hasn’t done before or has found that it takes an unbearable amount of strength or stubbornness to accomplish.
If you don’t believe me stop what you are doing for just 1 minute. become fully present and stay in that moment…
…How did it go? Did you notice how quickly your mind got bored or your body started to itch?
It’s ok if it did, we all start out that way. There are various meditations that can help you train the mind to focus and become present. The problem I find with those meditations is that even though they deliver in your ability to focus for long periods of time they are actually just another distraction from being fully present.
These meditations involve focusing on the breath while saying to yourself mentally “In and Out” or counting your breaths. Sure they accomplish the goal of helping the mind get focused but don’t get stuck here.
If you use these techniques or have used these meditations, then see them for what they are: stepping stones on your path of self-mastery. Much like exercising only your right arm, you may want to do other things to strengthen yourself as a whole in order to become more balanced.
Seeking a life in the Present Moment is an Act of True Bravery
In order to find out what you are truly afraid of, and to overcome that fear, you much become present with it and observe it without reacting. If we are inherently bored, afraid, or in pain emotionally or physically then we may find ourselves going to great lengths to play the game of distractions.
If that sounds like you then one of the bravest things you can do is to practice being present. In the beginning, you may forget a lot but every time you remember to be present, become present. Each moment you do will strengthen your ability to do it.
Once you feel confident in those practices and are ready to make the next leap, check out vipassana.