“Mommy, what are you doing? You are not paying attention to the game!” My son scolded me when we were playing a game together, and I did something silly.
“Oh…“ I woke up from my thoughts and said to him, “I’m so sorry. Can we play the game tomorrow? I had a very busy day yesterday, so I have too much going on my mind right now.”
“Yesterday is gone and past. You can’t do anything with it now. Tomorrow? It is the future. I don’t want to wait for it! I want to play with you now,” My son said emphatically.
My son’s words struck me deeply. He had just learned the concept of past, present, and future at school, and now he was being my teacher, imparting to me the most important knowledge of living life. I forced my mind to shut down and got refreshed by being present, enjoying the game with him.
My son became engrossed playing with his toys after the game. But his powerful words started an inner dialogue within me, trying to figure out how to live in the present moment, as we all know living in the present moment is the way to achieve happiness.
“Is it really possible to live completely in the present?” Doubt arose. “With my mind constantly vacillating between past and future, it is extremely difficult to be present.”
“Yes, it is possible with meditation techniques and yoga practices that can help us to be present,” a response came from within. “But can I follow these on a regular basis? With my busy life, it is so difficult,” a sad inner voice emerged.
“Life is not only busy, but may be challenging and stressful,” said another probing voice as it was trying to find the root cause of the problem.
“I know what causes the problem!” the voice said triumphantly. It figured out that the challenges of life often lead to a feeling that our life is not perfect, or easy, and not as we wish it to be. This sets our mind to worry about or plan for the future and regret or think about the past. We all know the outcome. We are not in the present moment and we are not happy.
“What is the solution then?” an eager voice asked expectantly. Something in me was determined to find a solution to the problem, and I went on introspecting, finding and challenging the thought patterns causing the problem, as well as revealing knowledge to overcome the problem over a period of time.
This inner process described below has helped me to become more conscious and more present.
1. Take an inventory of all you have in life, such as your health, family, friends, love, the opportunity to work, and your ability to express yourself. Your mind will give you lots of arguments that you don’t have all you want in life. Filter these arguments and do a reality check to see if you really are in such a bad situation that your unhappiness is justified. Most of the time, it is not. The key to being in the present is to be aware of your blessings and be grateful for all you have in life. This gratitude has helped me to be present and be happier.
2. Stop comparing yourself or your life with others. You are unique. You have an inner destiny. The life given to you is the best possible life to fulfill your destiny.
3. Our mind often oscillates between past and future with thoughts of what others said or will say about us. Change your reference point from others to yourself. Others don’t know what journey you have been through in your life. Be kind to yourself. Be proud of yourself for having come a long way despite all the odds. Accept that you have no control over other people’s judgments, but you do have control over your own. Do the best you can in the present situation and stop judging yourself.
4. Know that everything is transient, ever-changing, and full of possibilities. Sometimes we hit a wall in our life and feel hopeless that there is nothing beyond this wall. Have faith in your destiny, and be free from worries about the future. We don’t know what life has in store for us, and we may be able to do things we would never have imagined. I used to work with numbers and computers, and would never have imagined that I would be teaching a language to children and writing a children’s book. Working with children gives me immense joy that I never thought possible.
The above is a gradual process. Your self-talk will start within you on a thought level, and then eventually sink into your subconscious mind. This knowledge will eventually overpower the mind’s tendency to time travel. You will be able to live in the present moment and be happy.
I am still a work in progress. I keep on working and refining my inner processes. I think everyone is unique and should try to find their own processes within themselves.
It is an inner journey leading to bliss, and all of us can achieve it.
Author: Pinky Mukhi
Image: Unsplash/Ariel Lustre
Editor: Travis May
Copy Editor: Callie Rushton
Social Editor: Khara-Jade Warren