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!