“When you rest in quietness and your image of yourself fades, and your image of the world fades, and your ideas of others fade, what’s left? A brightness, a radiant emptiness that is simply what you are.”
“Living in the moment” is a sequence of words that have been part of essential teachings of many ancient traditions including Ashtanga Yoga, Buddhism, Taoism etc. for happiness, peace & overall fulfilment. But in the English language it is a bit of a misnomer as most words can be. It is not that life is contained in a narrow block of reality called “this moment.” Rather, it means thoroughly realizing that this moment is all there really is, while the past & future are capacities of the mind. This understanding keeps reality in perspective. In this way, it is actually more like living from the moment rather than in a moment. We on some level know this, but see liberation as an escape–escaping to another scene, another context, etc because of how we are conditioned to think. But the good news is limitations and boundaries are not physical; they are mental & emotional. You can pause, right here & right now, and pay attention to the life around you and inside of you. This is the goal of a meditator. To bring about a degree of awareness that is dissolving into this moment. Bringing about a quiet mind is not the goal of a meditator, as its at times confused for, but quieting the mind allows you to have more energy to be present and live in this moment. The energy that was once spent entertaining countless thoughts, mental projections etc. gets redirected to awareness itself. You are now able to sit in your own attentive, spacious presence. This also becomes a means of addressing difficulties on many levels, & can help cut to the heart of the matter and discover something you can’t believe you have forgotten; that child-like and wise space of consciousness that is your true self!
In other words, meditation is really about coming back to your authentic self. We get stuck in the momentum of our habits not when we lack the motivation but it’s when we refuse to notice and acknowledge what we are avoiding & averting, what fear is at play within us. Familiarizing yourself with attention, awareness, and the inner spontaneity of life that is unconditioned by judgments and thoughts you tell yourself is what it truly means to be “living in the present moment.” Coming into contact with this true, authentic self, you see that you don’t need to define, prove, validate, or assert yourself at all. You need only to drop the judgements and assumptions about that self so that you may meet it as it is, as if for the very first time. This is the power of your presence!
A lot of people would make the argument about needing nature and/or more favorable circumstances in order to be present or even to sit and be silent-minded. This is a lie told by the mind. The mind will always use excuses in order to avoid being present in the here & now. The mind says “I will be present when I get away from all of this stuff” “I’ll be present when I’m surrounded by my good friends,” “I’ll be present when this or that conforms to my expectations, desires, and or assumptions.” The mind will always give an excuse as to why not to be present because presence doesn’t require the minds functions. Therefore, the mind will always require your presence & attention to stay alive. The beautiful teaching we find in meditation is that you can always be present because you are present and you are presence itself. The path to “the Self” is not somewhere off in those picture-perfect forests or in those stunning yoga pictures you see on Instagram. The path is right here, right where you are standing.
So how do I meditate?
The key to meditation for beginners is a daily practice. Otherwise it is very easy to forget your True Self in the day-to-day antics of human living. 15-30 minutes a day would be a great starting point, but feel free to do less or more as long as you can continue that practice regularly.
Sit somewhere reasonably quiet & tranquil where you will not at all be disturbed. Set a timer or alarm so that you will not be thinking about the clock while you are sitting.
You can sit in absolutely any position you like so long as the back and neck are straight and the mind is alert.
Gently rest your gaze & attention on one spot with your mind. The spot between your eyebrows, known to some as the third eye chakra, is usually the best. This gives you a point to focus on so that you may remain still without your eyes, thoughts, & attention wandering. Do not try to venture anywhere else in your mind, for it is only the body that can travel here or there. All places exist like imaginary bubbles floating in the vastness of Awareness. And the entry-point to Awareness is always Here & Now.
Be exactly where you are. Relax. Thoughts and feelings will undoubtedly come. Let them. Do not judge or analyze them as well as do not try to push them away. Do not follow any particular train of thought.
If you do, simply notice this & let it go & bring your attention back to your point of focus.
After a while, the gap between your thoughts will increase and you will find yourself in intensely wakeful silence. What happens from there cannot be described in words. But it will change you in many ways.
There is no perfect meditation or bad meditation. Every meditation is the meditation you needed. It is a process and it can take some time for certain mental karmas (the impressions and judgements of the mind) to fall away.
Dedication, determination, and discipline are necessary for anyone who truly wishes to discover the nature of existence. But it’s worth it.
Namaste, sangha. 🙂