Try to imagine a life without timekeeping
We talk about the present moment, but does it really exist?
Can we actually get a hold of NOW? The moment you say you found it, it's already gone. We cannot really find the present moment. Even if you break a second of time down, there is a beginning, a middle and an ending. But where is the present in that? In an abstract sense, it means there can be no basis for a past or a future.
Every thought is nothing but a memory
What part of 24 hours is the present part? We could say 24 hours is the presence of 1440 minutes or a minute is the presence of 60 seconds.
The truth about mindfulness may be closer to this idea: mindfulness is not about finding time, but rather how you choose to spend it and where.
We could say eternity exists in every moment and every moment is an eternity
Is Biscuit the Buddha?
I don't need to teach mindfulness to my dog Biscuit, because he can't learn what he already is. He is the embodiment of mindfulness. He is in fact my teacher.
Every moment is just what it is, fresh and alive. He is never bored, and even though we have been walking along the same beach every day for almost 8 years now, for him, it's as if he has never seen it before.
Even though I have the privilege of walking on this amazing foreshore daily, I often take it for granted. Or I think, well this is nice, but they have much nicer beaches in Rarotonga, so I start thinking about walking my dog on that beach instead, and 20 minutes later, I missed the walk I was on.
This is how many of us habitually live, inside of a fantasy or a memory.
And sometimes that is very appropriate. But not as a long term strategy for happiness.
Very often it becomes a bad habit and people miss really magical moments because they are somewhere else in their minds, wondering if this is as good as it gets. And they miss the ordinary moments too, imagining they are not as important as the magical ones, so don't even bother paying attention.
In my work, I often speak to people who may have had some serious trauma in their life recently, and they are trying to make sense of it or come to terms with it.
Speak to someone who is ill, been in an accident or had an unimaginable event happen to them, and they will all tell you they just want to be able to experience an "ordinary moment " again. Suddenly their memory will be flooded with all of the little things they took for granted.
It might even be something as simple as sleeping in their own bed again, or being able to take a short walk in nature, the pleasure of a home cooked meal, or the chance to see someone, who is now gone.
Turns out in moments where we think we have run out of time or we are up against the wall… the little things take on a whole new meaning.
My suggestion is... Don't wait a second longer to start enjoying them! Pay attention to the most ordinary of things in your life, for one day they will be gone.
Of course, Biscuit does have a memory, he knows the name of all his toys in his basket. And he plays with all of them. I could throw lamb chop or mini mouse a million times for him, and it would still be a moment of wonder and a thrill for him. I see it in his eyes, and I can feel it in his energy. He just never gets tired of what the moment brings.
How I can train him to pick up all his toys at the end of the day and put them back in the basket is a subject for another article!
But he doesn't use his memory against himself, he uses it the way nature intended it to be used.
The hidden treasure
There is one gift which is of more worth than any other; a way of experiencing life that is in itself, satisfying to your own mind. Perhaps this is the one possession that fate cannot deprive of us; a mind that is free of the past and not anticipating the future.
If we live mindfully, we step out of the fear that time creates. It causes us to focus on the past or the future and to worry about what comes next or what just happened. It seems normal because the whole world is engaged in it, but it's a prison of never loving what is.
It's like living in never ending anticipation or never ending memory. Think you can change the past if you somehow think about it enough? Good luck.
Think never ending anticipation leads you to cherish what you have now? It doesn't. It just means you have to climb another ladder...
We have become so addicted to the idea that it's normal to think this way, but it's the very cause of almost all of our suffering, and the worst part is, we know it, but can't stop, because we have not been taught how or we don't practice enough.
The radical way to change your past
If you want to change your past, then you have to live happily now. How you handle the world that is happening right now for you is in fact your past. It also influences everything that is to come, since when the future arrives, it will arrive at whatever moment you are in.
Kind of mind bending isn't it?
One of the benefits of mindfulness is it helps you to end the war with time. And that is a war worth ending.
Feel free to leave a comment about what you have read
David Frank Gomes combines mindfulness training with the Co-Active Coaching Model. The methodology combines a skill set and a communication form that balances self-awareness, relationship intelligence and courageous action so that people can be deeply fulfilled, connected to others and be successful in what matters most for them.