July 10, 2009


I was moved by a line in an otherwise shallow, mainstream blockbuster film that I watched last eve (the title shall rename nameless to protect the insipid and homogeneous). “Just close your eyes and let the water carry you.” It’s a phrase not uncommon to our anxiety-ridden, multitasking, future-planning selves, though it’s advice we often don’t really own, even as we try to practice mindfulness and being-present-in-the-moment. Still, the advice stands to serve us well. Many of us seem to be constantly plotting our next move- or, as the case seems to be in New York City, all of our moves several weeks out, when we might, instead, be focusing our efforts on the here and now. Meditation, for me, serves the same purpose as hearing that cliché, or of observing something profoundly beautiful or experiencing something particularly enjoyable or miserable—these are all moments that force me to be in the here-and-now.

What are some other things in your life—planned or unexpected—that help you to remain in, or to return to, the present moment?

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Stephen's picture

When I am with animals, especially dogs, I notice the degree to which I am not present.

As I walk my dog down the street, she tends to charge ahead and I do not know why. I get confused, frustrated and angry. Running through my head are thoughts like: "Why is she disobeying me, what if she gets hurt, what will other dog owners think of me"?

Later on, I realize that in that moment my language cut me off from my experience and that I could not see the karma of that moment. In that moment I was insensitive to the vast network natural cause and effect relationships happening around me. Oblivious to the natural behavioral contingencies around me, I acted in ignorance. From this ignorance stemed misguided disciplinary actions, which, upon reflection, I regret. Guilt and suffering is the natural by-product of this process.

Thankfully, this isn't always the situation, but when it occurs, it helps me realize how I need to return to the present. It's only in the present that we can see reality and not just a map of it.

Chris Oldcorn's picture

Going for a walk in the woods

Tharpa Chosang's picture

Sitting on the sofa with the dogs, about to automatically rise to get the next thing done, remembering, "This is the moment I've been waiting for," letting go of that next thing, cool, sticky leather couch, panting long haired dog, smiling black-backed dog, sniff, someone needs a bath.

And the chainsaw. Where are my toes? Where's the ground? Waiting for the cut to enough.