On a recent trip to India I was roaming through the airport when I realized a fundamental truth: present moment awareness is the greatest skill you can possess.
It was a statement I did not fully understand in that moment, yet one I instantly recognized as being true and tangible, so I wrote it down and ruminated on it for a while.
The more I thought about it, the clearer the message became to me: life is NOW.
Think about it:
When is it not now? When will it not be now?
The reality is that the present, this exact moment, is all we ever really have that is tangible.
The past and the future can both be reflected on or planned for, but neither has any life to it. It is the present that we live and breathe, which is why our focus should be there and only there.
Eckhart Tolle put it best: “realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the NOW the primary focus of your life”.
For many of us, the future, what could be, is too often the focus of our lives. We are constantly planning and looking to the future, and as a result we lose the value of our present moments. We have been programmed to believe that happiness lies in our future endeavors, when in fact true joy can be grasped simply by living in the here and now.
Looking back and looking ahead can and should be enjoyed, but make those moments rare, and by extension, meaningful. Instead, re-ignite the fire inside you and put some magic back in your life by accepting and embracing the now.
In the words of Eckart Tolle: “time isn’t precious because it is an illusion. What you perceive as precious is not time but the one point that is out of time: the NOW. The more you are focused on time-past and future- the more you miss the NOW the most precious thing there is”.
6 Reasons Why Present Moment Awareness is the Most Valuable Skill You Have
1. It enriches your experiences.
When you live in the NOW, you appreciate every nuance, from sights and sounds to tastes and textures. Present awareness lets you maximize your experiences on multiple levels, so they become a part of you. As a world traveler, I now see first-hand how living in the NOW helps you to appreciate everyday acts and heighten their impact on you.
2. You are able to analyze and interpret your thoughts and emotions, instead of just reacting.
Much like the state of awareness you achieve through mindfulness and meditation, staying in the now frees you from your mind’s neuroses and gives you an objective eye.
Present moment awareness arms you with the power to enact and and all changes in your life. It allows you to use your mind as an instrument to create, instead of it being controlled like a puppet on the strings of expectations. In other words, would you rather be the hammer or the nail? Build the life of your dreams by doing instead of dreaming.
3. You transcend the constraints of your Ego, in particular the shackles of fear and doubt.
The Ego at it’s core is built upon fear and conflict: staying in the NOW eliminates those emotions and thoughts, so you can act without pause or concern.
“All fear is caused by an accumulation of psychological time and a denial of the present. Unease, anxiety, tension, stress, worry- all forms of fear- are cause by too much future and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past and not enough presence”- Eckart Tolle (The Power of Now)
4. You become infinitely more observant- you see instead of just looking.
Throughout our day we tend to be bogged down by thoughts, limiting what we truly see. Staying in the NOW opens up our powers of observation so we can see things as they are. Eyesight becomes sharper so you notice the smallest details, from colors and textures to movements and motions in the environment. Present moment awareness opens us up and take us out of our own heads: it makes us full alive and a part of what is happening.
This hyper awareness is also an invaluable tool of survival, one that is practiced by all the animals in nature. They are constantly in the NOW, fully cognizant of their surroundings and on alert. It is this skill that helps keep them safe as well as their young from the numerous threats that surround them. This is a skill that can also help us to stat safe and thriving.
5. You actually listen to those around you.
As Stephen Covey once said: “most people do not listen with the intent to understand- they listen with the intent to reply”. In other words, we focus on what we want to say in response rather than gearing the words and meaning of what is being said. Present moment awareness eliminates this issue: in the NOW you are not think of how to respond but rather absorbing what is being directed at you. This means hearing others ideas, understanding the lyrics to a song and grasping the message of great literary works.
6. It allows you to be fluid, just like life.
Life is not stationary: it constantly evolves and changes. When you look at life in the NOW you see that all thongs are temporary: they can be shaped according to what is happening. Being present lets you ride the wave of life and move and change with it, instead of battling against it. This brings you a sense of peace and an inner joy: it lets you achieve fulfillment and embrace your true self.
The simplest way to sharpen the skill of present awareness is by reminding yourself to “be HERE” as often as you can. Say it when you awake each morning and again throughout your day whenever you feel yourself looking too far ahead or being pulled to far back. Make it you mantra and believe it: them more you hear it the easier it becomes to live it and before you realize it your life will be full of pure bliss.