Present Moment Mind-set

“But non-doing doesn’t have to be threatening to people who feel they always have to get things done. They might find they get even more ‘done,’ and done better, by practicing non-doing. Non-doing simply means letting things be and allowing them to unfold in their own way. Enormous effort can be involved, but it is a graceful, knowledgeable, effortless effort, a ‘doerless doing,’ cultivated over a lifetime.” Β ~ Jon Kabat-Zinn

Yes this is the longest quote with which I’ve opened a post. Consider reading it again.

Recently, I wrote about patience. And no sooner did I share thoughts about the art of patience, then mine was tested. πŸ™‚ I am rarely one to become angry with an individual who is lost or confused. My inclination is to understand and help, if possible. But if we have a driving experience in which we find ourselves feeling impatient, we can become agitated. The flip side is that by experiencing these feelings, we have an opportunity to see ourselves and monitor/change our reaction(s). So what did I do?

Here is something to ponder: As we age, chronologically, do we become more thoughtful and accepting of others’ behavior or do we become impatient and increasingly opinionated? My take is that whatever is showing up in our current experience is meant to be there or it wouldn’t be. This helps me put things into perspective. And even if you do not believe in fate, what happens in the present moment helps us to consider that everything has a useful meaning or purpose.

Put simply, being in the present moment (similar to flow), with any given situation, is about losing yourself in whatever you are doing – forgetting about the outside world and choosing to instead, focus your perspective. In my driving example and from a place of awareness, I can then choose to feel compassion for those who are banging their steering wheels and honking their horns at a confused driver, rather than join in (which I did not).

If mindfulness and being in the present moment seem an attractive ‘space,’ these three acts may help:

  1. When you eat, just eat. (Note to self:) When you are eating, do not think or read about something else or type a blog post. Just eat. Pay attention to what you are eating. Experience it – the taste, the texture. Savor the moment. Just do what you are doing now, and nothing else.
  2. Accept things. Acceptance of an unpleasant state does not mean you do not have goals for the future. It just means that certain things are beyond your control. Sadness, stress and/or pain is there whether you like it or not. Better to embrace the feeling as it is.
  3. Do one thing at a time. Quite often when we multi-task, our attention is never 100% where it ought to be. Not all multi-tasking is negative, but we can focus on being in the present moment for the task at hand. If you try to do one thing at a time, your goal for mindfulness would be easier and you would likely feel less stressed, yet still productive.

35 thoughts on “Present Moment Mind-set

  1. I recently heard something about this on Radio 4. It was related to Buddhist philosophy I think? I didn’t get to hear it properly so was glad to read your account! Sounds like something I must try to achieve Eric, thank you my friend.

  2. You can’ t find a better time to post about being mindful about the present, than at the doorstep of the Chinese [Zodiac] Year of the Horse (As events move so quickly in a Horse year -starting Jan 30- , that you just don’t want to gallop off in the wrong direction…..)

  3. The quote sums up the whole article so well! While anger is spontaneous, patience has to be cultivated. Even after a lot of practice, impatient individuals often forget they have been learning to be patient!

    My take on the present moment is a bit different…I too believe in living and concentrating on the present but the thoughts, which are so uncontrollable, which flow like a stream, which keep springing from one bank to another… can you bind them into the present moment?

    • And I am still one of those potentially impatient people who has to remind himself that he is still learning. πŸ™‚ To those uncontrollable thoughts, I like to encourage their quieting, rather than trying to stiffle them. Yes, they are always there but they can be (as a yogi once shared) left to sway in the wafting grain. I don’t find that being in the present moment has to be mutually exclusive from the duality of being in flow – if that makes sense.

  4. An excellent post Eric. I haven’t been well this weekend and my tendency to want to get better quickly and back to getting things done is being challenged by my need to just take things as they come. Thanks for this gentle reminder

    • First, be well! Second, consider a gradual reentry into our all-to-fast paced world. And as you return to ‘full force,’ be open to being a bit in flow. πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by and adding to the thread, Christian.

  5. Oh…the mirrors of our experiences just continue to appear until we become aware of what inside needs to be seen, felt or otherwise healed. I refer to them as my edges, which need the softening that only awareness and presence can bring. I really like your three “acts”. Practice of presence. Essential. The quote is fabulous and the image of the frog, priceless! Loved this!

    • Lovely… softening the edges. Thanks for the imagery coupled with your very thoughtful expressions. We are on the same wavelength re: what presence and awareness can yield. Always appreciate your kind wisdom.

  6. I love that quote! I have a friend who is extremely goal oriented, which is great, but who also gets very antsy about the idea of “down time” which worries me. I’m afraid he’s going to suffer from burnout sooner rather than later and wasn’t sure how to bring up that tense subject of “chilling out”. Thinking this quote could be a good place to start πŸ™‚

    • People respond to well-intentioned and kindly offered suggestions, differently. My sense is that your sincerity and desire to place something ‘out there’ for his consideration, Amb, may couple well with the quote. Just ‘being’ in the moment can be valuable in so many ways for people. My money’s on his eventually thanking you. πŸ™‚

  7. This is a wonderful post! Thanks so much for sharing these wise thoughts on living in the present moment, and your 3 tips to move ever closer to this ‘attractive space’ are great reminders. Accepting our present moment doesn’t mean accepting what we don’t like about it, I agree. That’s when we want to put more attention on what we DO find pleasant in this moment. Ah yes… the peace to be found in the present moment. πŸ™‚ Thank you again for this inspiring read! Blessings, Gina

  8. Thanks for visiting my blog. Your About page reveals a person who is very self-aware! I look forward to reading more of your posts. Especially this one on being mindful, a current interest. Gail

  9. If you hadn’t written ‘consider reading it again’ in the very first line, I don’t think I would have re-read the quote or even the article for that part. It was kind of flying above my head! But I’m glad that I did, because this is something I need to tell myself almost every moment. Especially, especially the ‘when you eat, just eat’ part. I’m a student and always in a hurry to get things done, because there’s always so much to do and so little time. It’s hard to imagine how I can practice non-doing, but I will most definitely give it a try. Thanks!!!

    • Well I’m glad I wrote ‘consider reading it again!’ I remember my student days and can both understand and appreciate your hectic life. Yet there is always time, anywhere, to be mindful – to be in the present moment. It’s a matter of choice and creating the space in which to ‘be’ there. πŸ™‚ Thanks for stopping by and sharing your personal experience.

  10. You have such a great Daoist mind and philosophy… I love it when I read your work and like today the meaning and logic flows so naturally. It is inspirational without meaning to be inspirational…it just is.

  11. As always, very insightful! Reminded me (happily) of a dear friend (of happy memory) that never fretted about anything, always saying, “In a hundred years, it won’t matter anyway!” It really helped me put things into perspective (Of course, she always ended every verbal promise with, “… if the Good Lord’s willin’ and the creek don’t rise!”). I always look forward to sitting down to read your posts!

    • Isms. Every time I hear one, it reminds me of my dearly departed Irish grandmother. Glad some of what was shared served to remind and perhaps, rekindle good memories. And actually, it doesn’t hurt to interject the Good Lord… πŸ™‚

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