Living in the present moment is a contemplative practice that has been difficult for me. You’ve heard me struggle with this in my blog posts. I am as addicted to thinking as I am to food. I’m constantly thinking about the future or the past.
But six weeks have gone by since my convergence. For six weeks now, I have, for the most part, been free of the compulsion to eat. I’m losing weight and have more energy. I wonder now what it would be like to be freed from compulsively thinking–to lose the weight of worry about what might happen in the future or the pain of what happened in the past. Is God inviting me to pour my new-found energy into being fully in the present?
The past six weeks have shown me that freedom from any compulsion requires grace and practice.
By grace, I’m being awakened to the present moment, to the eternal now in which God lives. In this place, I want for nothing and am released from the illusion of separation from God, others, and all things. At this present moment–no matter what is in it–there is a gift that is for me and not against me. This is the grace I am given.
Practice is what I do with that grace. When I am given the awareness that I have wandered off into thinking about the past or planning for the future, I can gently return to what I’m doing in the present moment. I say to myself, “I’m holding this dish. The water is warm.” or “This is a wonderful moment.” Then I feel myself relax from the tyranny of belief that my thoughts are more valuable than my presence.
For most of my life, I believed I would be better off spending the boring moments preparing for future ones to be better. But when I’m finally in those “better moments” I think about how I can make them happen again instead of being fully there. It’s true that some moments are more enjoyable than others. But now I see that when I live each moment in the moment I am at peace. I don’t need to be anywhere else. Just to be present and aware of God and myself in this moment is what God desires for me.
Choosing to be present isn’t a decision you make once. It is a conscious choice with every step. It is choosing to be awake and accept what is in this moment now, and now, and now.
The only time you ever have in which to learn anything or see anything or feel anything, or express any feeling or emotion, or respond to an event, or grow, or heal, is this moment, because this is the only moment any of us ever gets. You’re only here now; you’re only alive in this moment.— Jon Kabat-Zinn
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Here is a meditation by my friend Rod Janz that invites you to be present to the moment you are in.