The present moment has always been available to spiritual seekers, but as long as you are seeking you are not available to the present moment. “Seeking” implies that you are looking to the future for some answer, or for some achievement, spiritual or otherwise. Everybody is in the seeking mode, seeking to add something to who they are, whether it be money, relationships, possessions, knowledge, status.. or spiritual attainment.
This is it. There is no more. If you can be present, it’s the whole ball game. The immediacy of life in the present precedes the mind and all concepts.
It’s hard for the mind to understand what being present is because the mind is never present. Yet, we do have moments of presence, when we are awed by beauty or those times when we are in flow.
You will find being present is ordinary. Don’t expect the extra-ordinary; that will take your right out of presence. Don’t expect some sort of psychedelic or out-worldly spiritual experience. And yet, with continued presence, there is a shift. The extra-ordinary is contained in the spaciousness of the ordinary.
Try it. It is not an effortful presence. The ego is capable of creating a mental space of presence, and you can tell because ego-presence feels effortful, artificial and dull. That’s not presence. That’s trying hard to be present.
We are already always present, so it’s little misleading to say “be present.” What we mean by “be present” is really to be Awareness, absent of the constant lurching for the next moment, the grasping, or the becoming.
Be present with what is already present. The body is always present, so we can always bring attention deeply into the body or breath to be present. Perception is always present–taste, touch, smell, sight and sound.
Do the following to be present:
Sit down, shut your eyes, and watch your breath. Become aware of breath going in, and going out. Breathe freely, there is no need to control or change the flow. Become aware of the sensation of air passing through your nose and nostrils. Pay attention to the lungs filling up and emptying. Pay attention to the belly expanding and relaxing. If attention is distracted by thought, gently bring it back with a smile.
Expand your attention to the sound of breathing. Don’t label or analyze, simply listen to the undulating sound of breath. Notice that there is no time between perception and hearing. Time only happens when there is thinking about hearing. Hear without thinking. Is there any effort required to hear? Pay attention to the way the sound is heard. As you notice the sound, pay attention, just to hear the sound, without decision or interpretation or judgment. Hearing just happens. There is no thought required. Meet the perception half-way. Is there any time delay between the sound and the hearing? The hearing of sound is thought-less, time-less. Relax, and be the awareness that hears the sound, without thought.
Expand your attention further to any sound that comes into perception. Don’t label or measure or judge. Just pay attention to the sound. Notice the sounds pop up in Awareness, inside of you. There is no space or time between awaring and the occurrence of the sound.
If thoughts rise, let them and shift attention back to the sounds.
Now feel your weight. Feel your skin touching your clothes. Feel your skin touching air. Don’t label or figure out what it is touching, just simply feel the perception of touch. Go inside the body to feel it. Put attention inside your hands and soon you will feel a tingling, an aliveness. Notice there is no time between feeling the sensation and being aware of the sensation. Just to feel, is there any time required between the sensation and the feeling of it? There is no decision, no effort, no thinking; it just happens. Time only happens when you interpret the sensation with thought.
Move attention to taste. Do you taste anything? Is there a taste? Don’t figure out what it is. Just be aware of it.
Move attention to smell. Is there any smell? Don’t label it or figure out what it is, just abide in the perception of it.
Open your eyes. Look around the room. Don’t label anything. Simply take in the seeing. Take in colors without labeling them. Take in the background, the ceiling, floor, the walls, the sky, clouds, anything without labeling. Feel the colors rather than seeing them. Notice there is no time delay between seeing and awaring. Perception takes no time. It is right here, right now. Don’t label anything, see it for the first time. Trace the contours and edges very slowly with your eyes. This is just Awareness. Everything you see is Awareness seeing in Awareness. The entire visual field and beyond is in Awareness. All these objects are simply perception in Awareness.
Move deeply into the Now.
When you are deeply in the Now, look at the grasping and running-away feeling in the mind, with Awareness.