Friday, September 2, 2011

Future, Past and Present

The majority of my time is spent thinking, worrying about, planning for the future. Another big chunk goes to thoughts about the past, usually regretting, remembering, rehashing, lots of re-(s) . . . Rarely, am I being here, in this moment, open to the whole experience of smell, sight, touch, hearing, tasting, and yes, thinking also.

Ayya Khema says, "We have to learn to actually experience living in the present".

Deafening sound of cars roaring on El Camino freeway, nauseating perfume of woman standing next to me, impatience of waiting for the AT&T store to open so I can get my iPhone fixed, a slight pinch in the lower back, contraction in fingers holding pen, some excitement about writing this post, a mixture of pleasantness and unpleasantness. Being in this present moment.

How do I (we) learn?

Through sustained attention, noticing again and again the mind's tendency to escape into thoughts. And through wise investigation of the suffering that comes attached. Sadness of moments not fully lived, this precious life wasted away, bit by bit. Superfluous, self-created anxiety about imaginary future. Craving for a different experience other than current one, and buried in it the seed of guaranteed unhappiness. 

Another moment. This time, noticing knots in stomach, bitterness in the mouth, street noise still, lots of it. Annoyance at the woman with the stinky perfume. "When are they going to open? Is it time yet?". Unpleasantness. Being in that present moment.

How about you? Where do you dwell most? In the present? Or do you get lost in thoughts? Do you favor the past, or the future? 


  1. Listen from the center if you can. Surely, I dwell mostly in the past, seeing everything I have done wrong, yet curiously I am excited with my new brain therapy which is making me feel more and talk better after two months. Then I jump to ...from whom am I doing it for?...the people that love me, love me regardless of how I speak. Then perhaps a future where talking will be easier. But while doing it, I often think now is the time to go, I have love, I am trying(or going somewhere)... what an excellent time. But we can't chose this, we can only chose what mind we'll rest in.

  2. Thank you. And wishing you to regain the gift of easier speak. You are such an inspiration!

    And, yes, we have limited control over our mind. I guess, that was the point of my post. Coming to terms with mind's limitations. Not fighting, instead acknowledging that right now, most of the time is spent in either past or future, because that is what mind has been used to most.

  3. What an interesting question! I hadn't thought about it before, but I think I dwell more in the future than in the past ... or the present.

  4. I'm definitely a past-dweller. Mindfulness reminds me of the present, when I can pay attention. Just this: breathing cat by my legs. Crickets outside. Spouse rustles in the next room. How long can I sustain this moment? ... it's gone.

    But your reminders are so helpful.

  5. The big thing is you are aware that you are getting lost!

    As far as being reminded, that is what we are here for, reminding each other :)