Life is not one continuous stretch but a collection of years, in turn months, weeks, days, hours, minutes and ultimately moments. When some one says “I have had a great day” or “oh, it was a tough day”, if you carefully analyse, you understand that a particular moment of the day was responsible to trigger that conclusion. But then you have a tendency to hold onto a moment, revel in it and try to relive much after it has passed. In reality you know that a past moment can never be retrieved. So there is a constant struggle between what is and what was or what will be. This struggle is because what is never aligns with what was or what could be. Is it possible to understand, leave alone enjoy, if you were to watch one movie and listen to the audio track of an entirely different movie. That is what happens when the mind has a different audio track which doesn’t match the visual that is going on at that moment. So the trick lies in being in the present moment continuously.
Being in the present is basically paying attention to the ‘present’ moment. Haven’t we all had intense moments of the present? If you analyse carefully, you understand that at such moments there is no other thought about past or future but only of that particular current moment.
Anyway, what is the point in living in the past? What has been thought, said or done is what it was and no amount of reliving can change anything about it. The past exists only as a thought in your mind. So is the future. If the past is history then the future is a dream. One is dead. The other is unborn. So both are effectively unreal. When you are shooting a video, through the viewfinder you observe what is going on and record it. But at any point if you stop, rewind and view the already recorded segment, you definitely miss out recording what is going on. That is what happens when you keep reliving the past. You neither can go back in time nor can you enjoy the present moment. Same way, if you keep dreaming about the future you neither reach there nor are you here in the present. At the most the past can help you remember your successes and failures which act as reference points for improvement and betterment. Visualising the future may help you set up a goal or destination. But neither can be done at the cost of missing out the present, for the present alone allows you to act.
A simple exercise can be a mind-blowing experience. Sit quietly now for a few minutes with closed eyes. Without any judgment, conclusion, expectation or preset programming, just watch yourself within and observe how you feel. Pay attention to your body, every part, every limb, every organ as how beautifully they are aligned in their respective places, how precisely every organ carries out its function. Watch carefully within with appreciation and gratitude. Experience every little detail of the external world, the smells, shapes, textures and sounds. Feel the air going in and coming out of your nostrils – a process that goes on from the moment of birth to the last breath. How we take so much for granted! Every second so much is happening within the body, which is a mini universe, and so much in the outside universe. But this monkey of the mind, forgetting the countless blessings, makes the elephants invisible, and contemplates on trivial dead thoughts, making nonexistent dinosaurs dance around!
Consciously start experiencing and enjoying every moment. Then starting from brushing the teeth in the morning to retiring to bed in the night, even the day-to-day mundane moments turn magical. Suddenly you find you are aware of everything that has been going on for years – starting from the smell of the toothpaste, the noise of the toothbrush rubbing on the teeth, the temperature of the water while gargling, the freshness of the breath to the warmth of the blanket and the comfort of the bed! Everything seems entertaining and enjoyable! So make the most of this moment. After all it is the best gift. That is why it is termed as the present!