My latest life experiment is taking up the practice of meditation. Since practicing meditation appears regularly in my readings, I wanted to explore and experience it first hand. Some of the benefits I read about from those who meditate consistently are peace of mind, a sense of calm, and ability to focus on the important things in life. I don’t know about you, but those all sound like pretty good things to me.
I’m too early in my meditation activities to say that it has made an impact or changed my outlook on life significantly. I’m reminded regularly by the guided mediation app I use, Headspace (which, by the way, I think is great and really enjoy), that if we are only interested in the results from meditation that we defeat the purpose. The process of meditating and self discovery is the purpose.
One of the recurring themes I have picked up on from my first 45 days of meditation is being present, being mindful, living in the moment. It hadn’t occurred to me prior to meditating how hard it is for us to truly do this on a regular basis. It’s so easy for us to get caught up reliving our past or being anxious about the future. What’s interesting is that we can’t change our past, and we can’t control how the future unfolds. The only thing we can control is what happens now, in this moment.
You would think that living in the moment is easy. When I watch my dog, he makes it look so effortless. If it feels good, he does it. Granted, it has repercussions sometimes, but he seems to get it over quickly, learn from it, and pick up right where he left off. Now, I know that there are differences between humans and dogs, and that Maverick should not be my role model for how to live life. That’s where, thanks to meditation, I’ve discovered a few things that are important for living in the moment.
The first is a sense of awareness – awareness of mind, of body, of emotions, of environment, of those around us. Again, it’s easy for us to to get distracted and caught up thinking about the past or future instead of being aware of what is happening in the present.
Second is an attitude of gratitude. Once we have learned how to be aware of what is around us, it is important that we appreciate everything we have at that moment. There are so many simple things that we take for granted, such as being able to sense the things around us through sight, sound, smell, and touch. How many of us take for granted our health, the fact we were able to get out of bed this morning, the fact that we can read this blog post on a computer or a phone from anywhere in the world? These are but a few of the many things that we can be grateful for at any moment in time.
Third is avoiding distractions, which are so numerous in our modern world. It’s the curse of connectivity. The fact that those little pieces of black plastic and metal that we carry with us everywhere make us instantly available. Sure, there are benefits to always being available, but at what cost? When it begins to impact how we engage with the moment, how we interact with those around us, how we experience our surroundings, I say the cost outweighs the benefit. It is at those times that we need to eliminate and turn off the distractions around us. The noise that comes from the internet, the media, brands, our phones. When we are able to shutdown the distractions, it gives us the space to be more mindful and more present in the moment.
I’ve found that one of biggest benefits of living in the moment is that it makes me more aware of those things most important to me. It makes me more aware of what I should be doing to get the most out of the precious time we’ve been given in this life. It makes me more aware of the difference and impact I can make in my life and in the lives of those around me. It also makes me aware that when all is said and done, life is short. It’s up to us to make it count.