present moment

“Life is like a dream”

When you hear mindfulness people say something like, “Life is like a dream,” one thing they mean is that more than 99.99% of the stuff going on in our minds are thoughts about the past and the future. (Past happiness or regrets, and future hopes and concerns.) Because the only thing that’s real in the present moment is what’s actually happening in *only this moment*, anything that’s outside of this moment is in a strict sense no longer real.

Along this line of thinking I like Eckhart Tolle’s two quotes, “The present moment is all you ever have” — you know that to be true for sure if you’ve ever lost consciousness, not knowing if you’d ever open your eyes again — and, “The whole essence of Zen consists in walking along the razor’s edge of Now.”

When you’re truly living in the present moment

A little personal enlightenment (from March 22, 2014):

Since I started passing out a few weeks ago, I’ve had conversations with doctors, nurses, friends, and even a shaman caregiver about life, death, quality of life, goals, and desires. I had a hard time answering some of those questions, and yesterday I realized why that was:

If you’re truly living in the present moment, those questions don’t make any sense! You can’t think about life, death, the past, or the future if you’re absorbed in the present moment.

When eating, just eat. When planning for the future, live fully in that moment of planning for the future. And when writing text like this, just write. That’s all.

Go beneath the story ... meditation is the tool for that

I like to listen to audiobooks when I drive around the country, and on my last drive back and forth to New Mexico I listened to the Pema Chodron audiobook, When Pain is the Doorway.

At some point in the book she talks about the storylines that constantly run around in our heads. I can’t remember if she was talking about a specific painful experience or just about storylines in general, but when I got to my hotel I made these notes about what she said: “Go beneath the story ... that takes a while, and meditation is the tool for that, to let go of inner dialog and come back to the direct experience.”

That reminded me of something else I read in another book, which is probably Eckhart Tolle’s The Power of Now. In that book (or whatever other book I’m remembering), the author said that 99.99999% of everything in life is a dream, because everything you are thinking about at this moment has either happened in the past, or it’s something that you want to happen in the future (or fear will happen in the future). The only thing that is not a dream is what’s really happening in the present moment, and of course the present moment lasts for only an instant.

If you haven’t experienced it already, once you really experience “the present moment” you’ll find that the last paragraph is correct. (As an anti-pattern of this, earlier this morning I was shaving and thought, “Oh, I should post that story I read a little while ago on Facebook. So and so would like that.” If you are ever thinking like that, you are clearly not in the present moment.)