Why paying attention to the present?

Contribution from Esteban Rojas Nieto in Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain.


We live by reacting. We do the same with our thoughts, constantly evaluating what happens to us. An incessant inner chatter accompanies these evaluations, which not only weaken and dizzy us, but also feed our anxiety and suffering. When we live by reacting, our judgements are based on previous experiences that condition our responses and memories, not on what is really happening. This routine of responding in an automatic way not only leads to many misunderstandings – it also prevents us from learning from the life we live. Reactivity portrays what happens to us in our imagination created by our thoughts, causing us to confuse what we imagine with reality.

Living by reacting traps us in the past, depriving us of the opportunity to notice the reality that flows from present moment to present moment. Living by reacting reinforces our attachment with the identity based on our memories, which gives rise to endless conflicts produced by the resistance that we create upon not accepting that reality does not adjust to what we imagine it to be. Living by reacting reinforces our habits, which are based in repetition. This automatic repetition of responses leads us to respond according to the old habit, instead of reality. This confusion is a major cause of conflict; we don’t accept reality as it is, but rather as what fits into that which we imagine it should be.

In this manner, we turn our lives into a fight against life. Overcoming the suffering produced by living REACTIVELY is our responsibility.

Overcoming the suffering produced by living RESISTING the reality that we can’t change is our responsibility.

Overcoming the suffering produced by living DISTRACTED is our responsibility.

Overcoming the suffering produced by living ANXIOUSLY is our responsibility.

Overcoming the suffering produced by CONFUSING WHAT WE IMAGINE WITH REALITY is our responsibility.

We can assume our responsibility with our health and with the health of the world that surrounds us by intentionally attending to what we experience. Indeed, it is imperative that we assume the following: intentionally attending to what we experience as a solution to our suffering is a deeply personal task; only I can attend to that which I experience. Only I can assume the responsibility for my life.

Therefore, I ask myself:

Why attend to the present?

Primarily, I respond: to truly perceive my life and overcome the suffering I inflict by living distracted; and with that, I may contribute to the alleviation of the suffering of others.