To live in the present means to become aware and conscious of your actions, feelings and thoughts. It means bringing your attention to the present moment and dealing with it effectively, instead of focusing on the past or future. The past has gone away and cannot be changed, and the future will be the result of the present, of the way you think, feel and act now.
True living occurs in the present moment, the only moment that exists.
Below you will find a conversation between a teacher and a pupil about living in the present. This is an excerpt from the book ‘Peace of Mind in Daily Life’.
Teacher: Living in the present moment helps you to avoid worries, fears and anxieties, and wasting your time on futile and negative thoughts.
If you keep thinking about the past, you allow all kinds of emotions and thoughts to rise into your consciousness, affecting the way you feel and think. Most often, such reminiscing disturbs the mind and agitates it, which is the opposite of peace of mind.
It is the same with thinking about the future. It is okay if you devote some time to thinking about it and planning it, but if you just keep dwelling on it and worrying about it, you are keeping peace of mind away.
The best approach would be to direct your attention to the present moment, to what you are doing and what is happening around you at each moment. By occupying your mind with the present moment you keep your mind busy, and don’t make room for worries, anxieties, fears or unpleasant memories.
Pupil: Do you mean to say that I should not think about the past and the future?
Teacher: Learn from the past and plan for the future, but don’t dwell too much on them. You cannot change the past and you cannot yet live in the future. The only place where you can live and act is in the present. Actually, what you do in the present affects your future.
Reliving past events in your mind and daydreaming about the past or the future, keep the mind busy with endless thoughts, but if you focus your mind on the present moment, you don’t make room in your mind for unnecessary and disturbing thoughts or emotions.
Living in the present means that you direct your attention to what is happening now, enjoying it and making the most of it. By focusing your mind on the present, you don’t have time or opportunity to wallow in useless and negative thoughts and emotions relating to the past or the future.
Wake up to the present moment and live in it. The past happened and is over, so what is the use of reliving it?
You lose peace of mind if you constantly live in the past and think and visualize events that have already happened. You also gain nothing by worrying about the future. On the other hand, concentrating on the present moment, on what is happening or what you are doing right now, frees you of unnecessary, burdensome and unpleasant thoughts and emotions, and brings peace into your mind.