To be conscious is to be present in your body and mind?

Commentary by José Parés Pérez, Concepción, Chile.

I believe that allor most of us have had the opportunity to observe some of our companions in life behaving in ways that surprise us: a gorilla that welcomes and protects a child that accidentally falls into its enclose at the zoo; a leopard that, after killing a monkey without realising that it had an infant that is a few days old, abandons the monkey to try and clumsily look after the infant that it has robbed of its mother; a shark that approaches a diver carrying out work underwaterso that he will free its fin from a net that is causing it pain and hampering its normal life.

We are definitely not the only living beings that are capable of maintaining a very close relationship between mind and body.  In the three examples mentioned, those animals acted, not driven by their instincts, but as a result of their probably primitive and not very well developed brains that drove them to act in a way that shows a certain degree of awareness.

On the other hand, we humans are the only beings that are equipped with a very well developed brain, we are capable of thinking, an attribute that, among other things, allows us to interpret time and mentally imagine the past and the future.  Although we can only live in the present, we are able to shift very easily towards the future or towards the past.

We do it so easily that often we do not realise that in our minds we are living outside the present and we are therefore not aware of what is happening in the present, where our body is.  Much of the malaise that we experience in our lives is due to this involuntary ability to relive the past or anticipate the fears we have about our futures.  It is incredible how many of us need treatment and medication as a result of this misused ability.  Life is now and the best way to deal with the problems that arise in our present lives is to remain conscious of what we are experiencing.  Many of us run away from ourselves because we do not like what we are experiencing.  Our minds do not feel at ease with being inthe present when our bodies hurt or when they suffer tension because of the emotions that we cannot handle; our minds become depressed when they are assailed by fears and anxieties and they do not notice the harm that is caused to our bodies by not being aware of the present moment.  We go along searching almost continually for entertainment to distract us from the present.

Our presence in body and mind, in our lives, is the only way to find harmony, consistency and peace of mind.  It is a condition “sine qua non.”   Any other condition cannot be called life.