Living in Present Time

December 8, 2008

Every action we take is based on knowledge gained from previous experience. You are able to read these words because, at sometime in the past, someone taught you to read. Knowledge and skills from the past are necessary, but they are often applied in ways that are useless and destructive. This produces three effects: constantly dwelling in the past, worry about the future, and subconscious judgment based on past incidents.

When we live in present time, we make use of past experiences, but we do not allow them to color our judgments and expectations irrationally.

One of our best tools for living in present time is meditation.  Here’s an exercise to try.  First read this paragraph of instruction:

Focus on some object at random. Keep your attention on that object as you slowly take a full breath. Then let your gaze shift to another object at random. Keep your attention on that object for a full breath. Repeat this for five more breaths, each time gazing on a different object. 

If you havent done the exercise, do it now  – then answer this question: while taking a full breath, did you keep your attention on one object or did you start to select the next object?  If you were thinking about where you would look next, you were slightly out of present time. Try the exercise again, and if you find you’ve selected a new object before you’re finished with the old, don’t make that object your focus. When you finish exhaling, then let your eyes shift to some object you hadn’t thought about before.

This exercise is valuable when you arrive at a new place or are about to start a new task.

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