Does the present moment treasure the WHOLE of life?

Contribution by Isabel Hernández Negrín, Las Palmas, Canary Islands, Spain.

We are so used to remembering and to imagining future situations that we act as if the past and the future really exist, as tangible independent entities, like my heart or my right arm.

Memories, memory and what we imagine are like films that are put on for us.  But would you say that a film is something real?  Yes, as a film.  You know that it does not have an existence outside the audio visual context, you know that the characters are not going to come out of the door of the cinema with you when the film ends.

Those pasts and futures that we imagine are the contents of our minds that capture or hijack all of our attention.  They are like a loud noise that shakes us.  This mental activity has the peculiarity of capturing our attention and preventing us from paying attention to everything that is included in the present moment.  Since there are not just memories and future speculation, there are other aspects: there are the people I meet, my impulses, the clouds, or sun or moon, my feelings, my worries, the beauty I encounter on my journey.

It may be that I am not able to observe any of this consciously when I am absorbed in thoughts that arise involuntarily.  Our present life is the only one that exists, and by not paying attention to it, we lose it and we lose ourselves, because we live detached from the beauty that serious attention provides.

The attentive present places us at the forefront of that whole life that we do not see when our heads are full of thoughts, fears, amusing or unpleasant memories, etc.

The action of thinking implies not being attentive.  But do not take my word for it.  Try to be aware, not aware of something, just aware with all of your senses and see what happens to you when a thought invades that space.  Observe something with relaxed awareness, without thinking anything about it – what happens?  Watch and feel and pay attention when you walk along the street, without thinking anything about what you perceive.  Stay alert and focussed, but without forcing it. 

What happens to you?  Do you remain worried or sleepy, or do you just feel life inside and around you?

Try it and find out for yourself.  Being present and aware, makes you treasure the life that would otherwise slip by unnoticed.