Many mindfulness practitioners talk about being in the moment. What is it they actually mean, and why is it considered a good thing?
LETTING GO OF PAST AND FUTURE
One aspect of being in the moment is not dwelling on either the past or the future.
The past is all the memories that make up your story. There is nothing inherently wrong with the past, it’s just that, sometimes, we can be dominated by it unnecessarily. We can end up thinking that it determines us. So it’s good to be able to break the link of control.
The future is all the anticipations that make up your concerns. Again, there is nothing inherently wrong with the future; it’s just that it can make us feel powerless and worried if we feel the weight of uncertainty.
If you don’t feel controlled by the past, and are not worried about the future, then you can live happily.
BEING AWARE OF WHAT IS HAPPENING NOW
Another aspect of living in the moment is non-judgemental awareness of yourself and your environment.
You cannot be aware of something you’re too judgemental about. If you are too busy dividing the world into what you are attracted to, repelled by, or indifferent to, then you cannot be aware of it. If, on the other hand, you stop pushing and pulling the world, then you have a chance of peace.
When you judge the world, you are really being disempowered by your past (where you learned your assumptions), or by your future (where your uncertainty lies).
If you choose not to judge yourself or others, and can sit in equipoise (balance), then you can live happily.
This one is controversial. In an age of judgement and activism, it is unfashionable to advocate acceptance.
What acceptance means, in this context, is not letting anything disturb your peace. Some people think this must mean allowing bad things to happen. But it doesn’t mean that.
Imagine two people. The first person, when they see suffering and injustice, gets very distressed and upset, and takes two days to recover. When they have recovered, they take action. The second person, when they see suffering and injustice, accepts it all. There is no recovery necessary. Then, immediately, they set about responding with compassion and wisdom. Which one do you want to be?
Just for today, forget your past story, and your future uncertainty. Don’t judge anything, just be present. Accept everything that is.
If you can live in the moment:
The past can’t define you, nor the future overwhelm you
You can be present and aware, without judging anyone
Because you accept everything, nothing disturbs your peace