Ironic, isn’t it…that the only real time is the one time that precious few ever get to witness. Many people talk of the present moment as if they have had a lot of experience with it, but it can only be felt in fleeting moments if one is not awake. The brain is not designed to give any significance to the ever present now. It gathers information unconsciously in the present moment, but the vast majority of its function is to compare what it senses now with what it has stored in memory, so that it can designate an appropriate future action – even if that action is no reaction at all.
Thus is the fate of the casual sleeper of life…reactionary will from a cranial process. Your life is no more in your control than the activity of the heart beating or the in draw of breath. The final decision of action rises to the forefront so that many people believe that they made the choice of their own free will…and yet they are completely unconscious of the brain’s processing during any experience. The brain decides what is pertinent information as it enters from the senses, and then fills in the empty space in between with a virtual environment of sorts.
The obvious answer to ‘how do I experience the present moment?’ is to remove your identification away from the brain. Meditation utilizes this same discipline, but we all know how successful a meaningful meditation discipline has been in your lax hobby of Self awareness. Most would be meditators listen to pretty music and relax until it feels so damned good that they get a gold star in their activity planner. Meditation like all things Westernized these days is a pale shadow of what it needs to be. To be present is going to take a whole lot more than scheduled quiet time in your fabulously laid out zen space. The present moment is very well hidden in your mountain of addictions.
That is the amazement of anyone awake. It was so obvious, and so close at all ‘times’ it is remarkable that anyone can’t see the 800 pound gorilla in the room that is the present moment. This is not about people being wrong or bad, however. The reason it is so well hidden is because you are evolving into wakefulness. The body is not interested in your quest for liberation. It is not being wrong or bad, either. It is simply doing what is in its nature and what is in its self-interest for survival, safety and predictability.
You are going to need your body in order to locate the present moment, so don’t be having disdainful thoughts regarding your body’s stream of consciousness. In order to experience the present moment you have to begin a discipline of actively using your 5 physical senses. This is waking meditation for those who cannot make a dent in the more passive methods. Let’s face it, for the neophyte to novice meditation is really a bore anyways, so you might as well try my suggestions as they lead to interesting experiences. So it is a win-win situation. To be honest, the simple exercises I will get to are a more advanced state of awareness because it requires you to become actively aware of your objectified environment.
Meditation can be initially described as follows: listening, but not hearing…looking, but not seeing…feeling, but not touching. Waking meditation on the other hand requires the opposite approach. I do not want you to be passively aware of your senses. I want you to actively enter your awareness into each sense. We begin with your eyes. Look at each object individually in your environment – focusing, rather than paying attention. Run your fingers over the object and feel its contours, roughness or smoothness, warm or cold temperature, any designs present on it…run your fingers over the design. Feel yourself feeling, while still focused on the look of it.
Take your finger and tunk the object so you can hear what it sounds like. Use various manipulations of it to get it to emit sounds. Hear the sound…focus on it. Look at the object…focus on it. Feel the object…focus on it. As you move about the room feel your feet touching the floor – bare feet while doing waking contemplations is superior. Feel the surfaces of the room through your feet…focus on it. Go from object to object and see it, touch it and feel it. Stand back now and absorb the room you are in. The sounds of it, no matter how subtle. The colors – really look into the colors. Feel everything as you turn around in the center of the room…but this time with your memory from touching it. Feel your memory of the texture, coolness or warmness, roughness or smoothness.
Taste an apple from your memory. Taste your favorite food just from memory. This is you using your brain, and not your brain using you. If you do as I suggested for 30 minutes a day in any room of your choosing – sensually experience it – then you will just have spent 30 minutes in the present moment. You don’t need my saying so – you experienced the moment as it is most alive, colorful, wonderful and vibrant. The colors should practically sing to you in the moment. As you finish interacting with the room, take a moment to feel the whole room at once. Just do it, don’t think about it…feel the whole room at once. Amazing isn’t it?
Some things you might notice if you do this exercise daily…there are no thoughts in the present moment, unless you are actively doing the thinking – such as tasting the apple from memory. That is you doing the thinking, not random prattling thoughts surfacing that you have to either beat down or allow to float around like verbal debris in standard meditation. In the moment with you focused outside of the brain where you are residing, all thought disappears…because you are no longer identifying with the brain, but are focused on an object in the room. The other thing you might notice over the 30 minutes is there is no boredom present. Again, outside of being passive in the skull there is no boredom – it is completely a brain handicap.
If there was ever a time to develop disciplines, exploring and experimenting with the present moment is the ideal place to begin. Let’s start with your environment. Turn off the noise and electronics for an amount of time each day. Brains love to be titillated and entertained when there is no ‘fight or flight’ situations at hand. There are people that are scared to death of silence – mostly because they would be forced to actually listen to that verbal vomit perpetually bubbling in the brain. Their homes always have at least one television going, music playing somewhere, constant cellphone calls and texting going on, and terribly uncomfortable silences between the monologues of household co-inhabitants. The silence will not swallow you up if you spend that quiet time doing the exercise above.
You cannot find the present moment standing on someone else’s stage. Choose your companionship wisely, be it long term or just phone calls and chat rooms. The moment is most obvious when alone…unplugged from electronics and the demands and attention requirements of unconscious people in your life. If you do not have some semblance of peace and quiet in your life for stretches of time then you might as well give up on the idea of ever waking up. Waking up does not happen in a cacophony. It takes discipline and boundaries and determination. Either you really are seeking the present moment, or you have accepted your fate of being a prisoner of the past and future.
It is the Self’s true nature to be present. The body is a stranger in a strange land in the now. It has billions of years programmed into it to be as it is. You are going to have to focus for the present moment to become more than just esoteric words. You are standing like a dope right in the middle of it, right now. It is that easy to break the spell – start now to make space in your life for a discipline of awakening. Or sleep another incarnation away…who should care whether you do but you? I can only point out the obvious. It is neither of our fault if you just are not up to the task. But at least try…
~ DC Vision