Why is “being in the present moment” not getting easier with practice?

I feel like, as the days pass, being in the present moment has gotten harder for me instead of easier. Today, as I was writing my morning pages, which are brain-drain style writing from the book “The Artist’s Way”, I realized why even though I meditate more than ever, I seem to loose the present moment more often.

What happens when begin to experience something for the first time is that we have no prior thought about it, in some cases we might be fearful, but if there is nothing to fear, then there is very little thought about it, but then what happens when we have an experience is our mind begins to form thoughts about that experience: “that was great”, “that was easy”, “I hope this feeling doesn’t go away”, “what if I loose this?”, “what if I don’t feel it again?” “oh no! I don’t feel like I first did!”. When this happens, you can no longer truly experience that particular thing in the same way you did the very first time, because now you are after a feeling that you experienced previously. I don’t know if I am explaining this well.

So lets take the experience of “being in the present moment”. The first time I felt this, was when I made a shift in my focus from “the thinker” to the “observer of thoughts” then that shift in focus gave me a an amazing feeling of awareness.

However, being that our brain is trained to compartmentalize things, my mind began to develop thoughts about what it means to be present and aware, and how I can go about shifting my focus in the future.  So now, instead of just being present, I am trying to reach it by accessing the information my brain stored about the experience of present moment. Well, by doing this, I am delaying reaching the present moment, because you can not reach the present moment through analysis and thought and past experience.

Each experience of the “present moment” is a new experience, and it can be reached in many different ways. Meditation, a simple shift of focus to your breath, an enlightened thought that quiets the mind, sitting in your garden. You will never know! You can not categorize mindfulness, because then your thoughts (or as Eckhart says the ego)  will take it over. If you don’t experience it the same way, if you don’t reach it the way you did the first time you experienced it, then the brain panics. “why isn’t this working?” “I am sitting here and meditating, why can’t I quiet my mind”. Observe these thoughts, and be okay with what is, and suddenly you find yourself in the present moment again!

I can ride my bike with no handlebars!!

so for the past few days I have been practicing really being present, and it’s been so peaceful. Challenging, but when I managed to snap myself out of my thought trans, I felt the deepest peace I have felt in my heart.

On Sunday I rode my bike to work, and I practiced being present (mindful) while riding it. My mind kept drifting in thoughts, but I kept brining my focus back to my breath and body. Well, something magical happened. For the FIRT TIME EVER I was about to let go of the handlebars for longer than a millisecond. Each attempted lasted about 30 second, but it was so exhilarating. The whole ride was!

I was reminded of the this song the Handlebars song by Flobots, which interesting enough was what I kept listening to when I first read Eckhart and discovered the power of being present 5 years ago. I was walking on air back then, I am a little closer to earth now, but it’s the only way to be. You are only truly living, when you are here, in the present moment, and not lost in your thoughts.

If you like the song by Flobots, I recommend creating a pandora station. It will play all kinds of amazingly conscious hiphop songs!