A friend once recommended me a book called Be Here Now. “What a meaningless title!” I thought. Where else are you going to be other than here?!
It took me a little while to grasp the idea that, as the cartoon at the top our website shows, our body is always in the present moment, but our mind often isn’t.
Generally, the reason for this is we are dissatisfied with what we are experiencing and so our mind gets to work going over the past to analyse how things should have happened differently or obsessing about what we do or don’t want to happen in the future.
This is often a futile exercise. The only moment that exists is the present one, so if we want to feel good, that’s the one we’ve got to work with! Mindfulness is a training in first of all staying in the present and second being OK with whatever we are experiencing.
I think of it as like tuning a radio. The present moment is like a beautiful symphony that we occasionally tune into and enjoy. But when we don’t like what we hear – maybe we find it sorrowful or tedious – we try to tune into something else and end up spending large swathes of our day listening to the hiss and crackle of an untuned radio.
That’s not a very pleasurable experience, so we try to make it feel better with chocolate cake, booze, caffeine, comparing our lives with others’ or fishing for attention on Facebook and all manner of inadequate substitutes for the beauty of the symphony.
The problem is that the present moment contains emotions that we don’t want to feel, and if we’re going to stay listening to the music, we need to sit through them.
Last week I challenged you to label your thoughts as you notice them while you’re brushing your teeth or showering. One reason for doing this is to notice the pattern of thoughts that your mind creates in order to take you away from the present. That’s one way to become more present.
Another way is to use the phrase ‘be here now’ On the way in to work today I noticed myself becoming lost in thought planning this blog, and missing the wonderful autumnal scene around me, so I said to myself ‘be here now’ and started to take it in and appreciate it.
I do the same when I’m supposed to be listening to someone and I my mind goes walkies, or when eating I realise I’m not paying any attention to the food.
If you only remember one thing about mindfulness, I would suggest that you just keep reminding yourself to “be here now” and see if you can dance to whatever music is playing.