The present is the only thing that's real

Time for a little reflection.

We run around so much these days, juggling multiple activities, thinking about what we need to get done or analyzing what we did yesterday. We worry. We feel anxiety when we're delayed on our way to an appointment or when something deviates from our plans; when we're stuck in traffic; when our children are late coming home. We worry when we lose control of our timeline or when things don't jive with our expectations.

When you look at how we go through our days it becomes apparent that we live a great part of the time in the world of our thoughts, in the virtual reality of our minds.

When feeling stressed, and in search of serenity or some tranquility, try turning down the volume in your brain. Many people find it useful to consciously focus on the present, to become aware again of the senses and experience this particular moment in these surroundings.

Sometimes, the mind is like a runaway train. And we make things worse by letting ourselves get further distracted by the car radio, for example, or the mp3 player, the video game, the television or the computer. We may be in one place physically, but our minds are too often somewhere else.

A useful technique to improve awareness is highlighted in the book "The Power of Now" by Eckhart Tolle. His suggestion is to visualize your thoughts as if they're a series of images on a screen, to see them as a movie. Don't analyze them, just observe them without judgment.

As you see these disjointed thoughts running on the screen, you come to the realization that the room is filled with another presence -- the watcher. And the watcher is also YOU.

But how can this be? This means there's another "you" that is not a part of those thoughts up on the screen. The more you connect with that "watcher", the more your presence focuses on the "other" you; the you that is set apart from all the mental noise or static. As you practice this, the easier it becomes to disconnect at will from uncontrolled mind activity and the easier it becomes to focus on the present.

There are other techniques to focus on the present, of course, like conscious breathing exercises, yoga, etc.

The bottom line, according to the experts, is that you start to feel better the more your body and mind synchronize with the "now", with the surroundings and situation that defines the present.

Only the present is real; the past is a movie in your mind and the future is also just a series of images, also in your head. As humans , we can only truly live one "here and now'' at a time. The more we can fully experience this, the better we will feel. Tolle points out that our minds are so polluted that this has become difficult to do.

But with a little practice, living life a little more "unplugged" can make you feel better.
It's worth a try.

Photo courtesy: Greg Hill, stock.xchange

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