"To be present is to choose Happiness over Unhappiness."
Defining Being Present
It's a wonderful feeling when one is in the state of being in the Present Moment.
Being Present is a state where the Mind is Still.
In such a state, the mind is not wandering around, i.e. into the worries of the future or the regrets of the past, the chaotic states of the mind.
These days, it can be very difficult to remain in the Present Moment. The demands of life can often push one to think excessively, thinking about solutions for problematic tasks and worrying about things that need to be completed.
And when one makes a mistake, how easy it is to sink into the dark states of regret and self-criticism, rethinking about the things one could've done differently!
In this article, we will explore the causes for an over-thinking mind and the ways to still it so that one can experience the Present Moment again.
Being Present In Depth
Defining Wandering Thoughts
How can one calm a mind that is always thinking?
It's only when you pause what you are doing and close your eyes, you will realize that your mind has been thinking in the backgroun all this time!
These days, the mind can be in a state of constant wondering, wandering into one's desires, problems, fears, and so forth.
To be Present thus is to learn to Still the mind. And to Still the mind thus is to address the Wandering thoughts.
So, let us explore what wandering thoughts are and why they are there.
What are wandering thoughts?
So you're sitting on a chair doing nothing, then suddenly a thought pops up without you intentionally creating it.
That is pretty much what a wandering thought is.
Wandering thoughts are the thoughts that seem to simply wander into our minds. They are the subconscious thoughts happening in the back of our minds that has surfaced to the awareness of our conscious mind when their presence has become loud enough, or one when's awareness has become sensitive enough. They can seem uncontrollable, like the wandering thoughts experienced after one has a heated argument with someone.
Most of us won't give much thought to the nature of wandering thoughts because we would have lived in their presence for most of our lives. Because we have never really questioning their presence, we have normalized their existence.
And in thinking that it's natural for wandering thoughts to exist, we have been letting them come and go into our minds as they please, granting these strangers thoroughfares into lives not realizing how they can disturb out experience of happiness.
The practice of meditation can really help one to address these wandering thoughts. Because through the practice of inward observation, it will shine light on the wandering thoughts that are hidden deep within. And as one becomes aware of the nature of one's wandering thoughts, of how they can pull them away from enjoying the Present Moment, one will naturally learn to release these unnecessary thoughts go.
Otherwise, without developing such a deep awareness, one can subconsciously hold onto the belief that they are needed!
Importance Of Addressing Wandering Thoughts
Being in the Present Moment is our most natural state—when the mind is relaxed and without stress. Thus, to pull ourselves back into the Present Moment, one must address the cause of the tension and stress within—The wandering thoughts.
To let go of our wandering thoughts we must first develop the desire to.
As stated previously, the practice of meditation will help one greatly to develop this desire.
But let us become aware of the negative impacts wandering thoughts can have on our happiness so that we can naturaly develop the motivation to release it.
Firstly, when the mind is in a state of wandering around, the mind is in a state of agitation/stimulation, which can come at a great cost of one's mental energy. As such, wandering thoughts can make one's body tense and mind fatigued. So, next time when you encounter a need to solve a problem, observe how draining the wandering thoughts can be!
There will be some people who believe that it's good to let the mind unwind and process its thoughts. This to an extent is true, but often without meditation, one can end up dwelling in unnecessary thoughts for too long. And this overtime can exacerbate one's habit of dwelling in wandering thoughts.
Do you find yourself dwelling in your thoughts all the time?
In the extreme, wandering thoughts can cause one to have an ungrounded mind, an inability to focus, and to develop insomnia.
Is it easy for you to sleep at night or does it take a while?
When the mind is Wandering, the state of the mind will be a clouded one. A clouded mind will only ever be able to come up with clouded solutions. So, if you wish to make wiser and clearer decisions in life, learn to still the mind.
Although to an intellectual, to put the mind aside can be counterintuitive when one needs to come up with sophisticated solutions. But simply realize that the clearer the mind, the easier it will be to use the mind to think. The more chaos there is within, the harder it will be form coherent thoughts.
The ill-effects of a Wandering Mind thus can be many.
But realize that the reason for addressing wandering thoughts is not because they are "Bad" but rather to develop the Knowing of why they are there.
Ultimately, one will realize that these wandering thoughts are there because we have allowed them to exist. It's only when one one realizes from direct experience that one does not need them, that their mind can truly let them go. So the deeper purpose of addressing wandering thoughts is to develop Self-Knowing, to know more about ourselves, to know why we have subconsciously created them in the first place.
And this will ultimately take one to know their suffering states of mind.
Path Of Creator
Being Present In Relation To The Path Of Creator
The journey of Self-Transformation is about creating greater happiness in our lives.
Let us explore the deeper causes for wandering thoughts so we can address them at the seed level of the mind.
Causes For Wandering Thoughts
If one practices meditation for a long time, one will be able to bring enough Stillness into one's mind to see the beginnings of one's Unstillness. In those moments, one will begin to see that the cause of the wandering thoughts will always be one's suffering states of mind.
For instance, behind one's wandering thoughts, one will always be able to find some sort of fear, attachments, anger, jealousy, impatience, and so forth—The Negative States of the Mnnd.
Rejection of the Present Moment
Let us examine how our Sufferings can create Wandering Thoughts to reject the Present Moment.
The following are just a few examples.
1. The attachments we have, i.e. the objects and futures that we so desire to have can push us away from being in the Present Moment, rejecting it for something "better".
2. The painful sensations we experience in the Present Moment, i.e. when we are sick, when we have pains in our body, when we are suffering in the mind, can push us to escape into the mind.
3. Our fears of what may happen to us can push us out of the present moment into the future, making us think that in doing so we can prevent it from happening.
4. The Experience of Regret/Guilt can push us into the past and dwell on "what we could have done better."
5. The attachment we have towards pleasurable experiences such as sex, drugs, alcohol, fun times can also make us reject the present moment that is more boring.
And the list goes on
As one continues to develop the Knowing for the Cause of the Wandering Mind, one will gradually realize that indeed the cause for one's wandering thoughts will always be traceable to the suffering states of the mind.
Thus, the more one works on one's suffering states of mind to release them, the more "Present" one will naturally become.
And to work on the suffering states of the mind will always require one to develop the state of Acceptance. Because if one can accept all there is, then there would be no need to reject the Present Moment for any reason.
On the journey, one will encounter many spiritual questions about Self-Acceptance:
"Why can we not accept ourselves as is?"
"Why do we see the Present Moment as Imperfect?"
"Why do we see ourselves as imperfect?"
"Why can't we simply accept that person?"
"Why is stopping me from accepting a possibility of a future?"
And so forth.
The more one asks questions to do with Acceptance, the more one will discover their spiritual lessons, which will take them to the seed cause of their suffering states of mind.
Things that one can do in life to be more Present
To develop the state of being Present is to learn to choose the Present Moment every time the Mind tries to offer any other alternative.
So, throughout the day, when you find the mind compelling you to wander into a thought, simply pull yourself back to the Present Moment, just the state of being aware of what's happening inside and outside of you.
Of course, this is easier said than done, especially when one has a habit of wandering/imagining in our mind.
That is why it's important to practice meditation every day. Without the practice, one will not know what the state of Stillness and Awareness is. As a result, one will simply end up in a state of confusion. But the more one practices meditation, the more one will become aware of the difference between the states of thinking and the states of simply being aware of the Present Moment. The course page of this website has many meditation practices that you can try to begin your journey of stilling the mind!
So, at the beginning of your journey, you will no doubt feel a sense of insecurity/unnaturalness when you ask the mind to be "Present."
You will no doubt also encounter Inner-Resistances as the mind is asked to reverse a long-term habit.
Fears of not thinking about the future may come up.
Habits of not wanting to let go of the Past may come up.
So, the more you try to be Present, the more challenges you will face.
And this is great because what you are doing is to bring out into light the negative states of the mind that is lurking within. That is the key purpose of the attempt to be Present—to develop Self-Knowing of one's suffering states of the mind.
No matter what challenges you face, the key to success is simply to be persistent and learning to accept the Present Moment for what it is.
Like how your persistence in wandering all the time has created a wandering mind, by being persistent in accepting all there is, you will transform it into an accepting mind.
To be Still is to Accept. Because when the mind is able to accept all there is, there will no longer be disturbances. The disturbances are there because there is some unresolved issues that is making the mind reject the Present Moment.
Life experiences will also be valuable in helping our minds to be more accepting of the Present Moment. For instance, experiences of facing our fears can transform a fearful mind by allowing the mind to see that going towards such experiences are not so bad. For instance, experiences of dwelling in problems but achieving no solutions can help one realize that engaging in wandering thoughts are simply a waste of time.
So, it's only a matter of time before life experiences teach us that we can never enjoy the Present Moment if we are always asking “What to do next?” "What to buy next?" "What to eat next?" "How should we have changed the past?" etc.
Realize that being Present is not about banning oneself from thinking into the future or the past. Rather, it's about liberating ourselves from our suffering states of the mind, so that when we use the mind to think, whether it is about the past or the future, the mind is always clear, without fears, without negativities—just happiness!
The destination is towards being the master of our mind.
Develop Experienced Knowledge
Try to remain as "Present" as you can throughout the day by being aware of your Wandering Thoughts and trying your best not to dwell in them when you feel the need to.
The Creator's Meditation / VipassanaLink here
Practising the 5 Breaths Technique before the Creator's Meditation will help you greatly instruct the mind to remain in the Present Moment / Calm / Still in your Meditation Sessions.