​Is being present in my life paying attention to what I experience from moment to moment?

Commentary by José Parés Pérez, Concepción, Chile.

I remember that when I was a child we were called to attention when we were distracted in class by being told that “we were away with the fairies.”  Being away with the fairies at that time meant being a long, long way away.  If we are not present in what we are doing, we are absent from our present lives.  We are here physically but actually in the past or in the future.  We are not being what we are, but what we would have liked to be or what we would like to be.  We are blaming ourselves and regretting or desiring and fearing.  Being present in your life is something completely different from the way in which we normally live.  I have been able to confirm that being present in your life makes the difference between living and not living.  It is very clear that you can live without being present in your life.  In fact I lived like that for a long time.  But when you have known life, by being present in it, you realise that there is another way of living that can renew your life.  And you have not changed anything physically nor spiritually.  You have just decided to be present in your life as often as you can.  If you want to classify it in some way, call it a mental change.  Instead of drifting, of being distracted because you do not like your present existence, you have decided to deal with what you experience from moment to moment.  You realise when you have a pain, feel anxiety, something annoys you, you fear what you face, but you remain present in your life accepting the reality, accepting your interpretation of life and of what life brings you.

I assure you that just a few encounters like this with the reality of your life will be sufficient for you to realise that running away from them is not the right reaction.  Running away from them means resisting what I am which adds suffering to my pain, distress to my anxiety, weariness to my annoyance or panic about what I fear.  

If you pay attention to what you feel without running away from your life you will stick with what you are and with what you feel, you will learn about yourself, take an interest in yourself, accept yourself as you are and you will see that life starts to smile at you.

Do not wait for the cruel blows that occur in life in order to learn from yourself.

Do it now, in the moment where you are – calmly, I hope – reading this.  Stop reading and pay attention to yourself.

Where your hands are, the posture your body has adopted, a part of your body that is tense, the state of your breathing, whether you are alone or have people around you, whether you read with a lot of light or not much, your appetite, the reaction that you are experiencing as a result of what you are reading etc.  You are all of these things and much more. 

I am continually grateful because thanks to paying attention to the present, I have had the opportunity to find myself and get to know myself.  And believe me if I tell you that every day I love myself more than before and life takes on more meaning in the face of our present reality.