In the Moment

What’s wrong right now? What’s the matter in this moment, in this very second? If you’re actually on fire, great! That immediate danger will bring you right into the present — you won’t be capable of being anywhere else. But if you’re not on fire, then it’s likely that nothing is actually wrong right-now.

And if nothing is wrong, you should be feeling great. If you’re not feeling great, then you’re not present — your thinking-mind is taking you on a turbulent ride that you’re not enjoying. You’ve been transported to sometime in the past where you’re ruminating about unpleasant memories OR you’ve been taken into the future where you’re prophesying a doom-filled fate.

You better pump those brakes and get back into right-NOW. Start by breathing: in… out… in… out…. Focus on the breath in order to take focus off your thoughts. Now do a systems-check, starting at the top and working your way down: relax every part of your body — when you feel tension, release it. In that process of relaxing, you should feel some sensation at each spot.

For example, you should feel something as your thighs relax. Keep focus on those sensations as they happen. When all done, feel the sensation as a total-body experience, as an inner-energy pervading through your entire body — like you’re radiating light and joy. Focus on that feeling and know what it’s like to be in the moment — perfectly present.

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Practicing Presence Update

So it’s been about a month since I’ve been focusing on presence — how’s it going? First off, I have noticed some benefits, so I’ll be continuing the practice. But after 30 days I’m still not encased in a golden glow of pure bliss — kinda disappointed about that. But I think my mood is lighter and my reactions are more mild — so that’s good.

And I’m not living a tough life right-now by the way. In fact, it’s idyllic in many ways. But can you enjoy paradise if you have a bad attitude? The answer is: NO, you cannot. So I’m currently trying my hardest to enjoy the delightfulness I’m surrounded by. Isn’t that a ridiculous situation to find yourself in? Life: “Here! Enjoy!” Me: “Um, Uh, well I guess….”

The video-game I’m finding myself within is sending me obstacles in the form of dissatisfaction. And my role is to overcome that negative inclination and develop an appreciation for all the treats in my path. It’s a strange premise. Experience situations that should entertain you, yet feel anxiety and revulsion instead.

The source of that sourness is my over-thinking mind, so it is my duty to shut it down. That’s what the practice of presence is all about: stopping the incessant thoughts from polluting the experience of existence. And boy, I’ve been noticing the toxic-waste my thoughts have been excreting lately — nasty stuff. I lose nothing by shutting them down. But man are they persistent!

Clean Slate

Here comes another new day. Alleluia – Enya.

While lying in bed, right before sleep, willingly surrender to existence. See sleep as a portal, a transition into a new life that begins every morning. There is no history, no past, not a thing before the moment you awaken.

Look around, explore, and discover the world anew everyday. Remembrances are incomplete and often falsified fantasies of a time that may or may not have happened — they can’t be trusted, forget everything.

And being that it’s a new world, you have no data, no facts with which to predict the future. You can no longer make pessimistic prophesies of what’s to come. All you have is right-now.

Tear up the pages of today, don’t take them into tomorrow. As the day begins, so does a pristine adventure.

Thought Tolerance

Dear Rich, should I actively suppress my thoughts? That seems kinda harsh, shouldn’t I be more tolerant towards them — a bit more peace, love, and harmony? Maybe just observe them non-judgmentally?

Dear reader, have you not been listening to your thoughts? They’re straight-up evil. You can’t reason with them. They fling sh*t just to watch it stick. Being tolerant of intolerance leads to a cesspool that nobody wants to swim in. It doesn’t work, and years of Internet-based-forums has proven this point. With anything high-traffic, you absolutely NEED strong moderation.

Imagine a public restroom, now imagine some guy pinching a loaf right into the sink. Freedom of expression right? Why not? You just gotta be more tolerant bro. Or is it wrong to poop in the sink? And if that’s wrong, and a certain level of decorum must be maintained, then you shouldn’t allow your thoughts to sh*t on EVERYTHING within this world.

Your thoughts are NOT the end-product, they’re simply the byproduct of a creative mind. In other words, they’re the waste that must be disposed of properly lest that sludge pollute the environment. Don’t believe me? Just take a bit of time to watch those thoughts oozing by — notice how you feel — take ’em all in too, every last piece of pessimistic excrement.

Sick of the stink yet? Are you ready for some law and order? Then shut that sh*t down! Your goal is pure unadulterated consciousness — experiencing, without thought. Eating an apple? Then just eat an apple. “Hm, it’s an okay apple but I’m wondering…” NOPE. Shut it down — just savor the flavor. Walking down the street? Then just walk down the street. “Huh, I hope that…” NOPE. Walk — no internal talk.

And lastly dear reader, if you don’t actively control the toxicity emanating from your mind, you’re passing the burden onto everyone else. You’re like the guy randomly sh*itting in the sink expecting everyone else to just “deal with it”. If change starts within, your thoughts are ground-zero. So yes, you need to suppress that sh*t.

A Conscious You

Dear Rich, what would a more conscious me look like?

Why dear reader, that’s a very good question indeed. Why bother trying to attain a state of constant presence if there isn’t any benefit? Well in fact, there IS a plus side to being-in-the-now.

For starters, do you know all that negative rumination that tends to ruin your day? Gone. You’ll have a clear head and a clean conscience. Instead of arguing with yourself and everyone else, instead of feeling guilty and shameful, instead of forecasting the most dire consequences possible — you’ll be free. You’ll no longer be a prisoner within your own mind.

Do you know all those worries you have? Gone. What’s going to happen in the future? Who cares — not you, that’s who! You’ll be too busy engaging in the present to give any energy to false prophesies. What’ll happen five years from now? One year from now? Even five MINUTES from now? WHO CARES!

Oh boy, and did I mention the pure bliss?! Why, when you’re livin’ in the right-now you’ll be feelin’ the full joy of this moment every second of the day! It’ll be euphoric even! Just picture it, there you are, fully engaged in the activities comprising existence, and your consciousness is experiencing everything with full focused attention!

Makes ya wonder why you’re not doing it already. Well sir, no time like the present — ha! And lucky for you, the-now is literally happening right-now. Simply shut that thinking-stuff down and begin. If you believe it’s gonna take some time to put that baby to bed, you best start the work immediately — because the sooner you begin a thought-free life, the happier you’ll be.

And I hear ya, you’re thinkin: “Rich, that sure sounds good an’ all, but I’m havin a hard time swallowin what you’re sellin”. Well friend, all that skepticism is just your thoughts talkin — the precise part we’re tryin to get rid of! ‘Course it’s gonna fight back! But that’s no pal of yours, heck, your thoughts have been outright torturing you your entire life! Makin up all that scary stuff that never happened, humiliating you, frustrating you — doin whatever it could for no reason in particular.

But now it’s time for your consciousness to get its due — a thought-free turn at life. An uninterrupted experience, living without the constant commentary. Why it’ll be the life you always knew you should be livin ‘cept there was somethin holdin you back. And you’ve finally found the culprit! Those dirty good for nothin thoughts. Well say goodbye baby, ’cause you’re consciousness-realized now!

Mottled Darkness

What do you see when you close your eyes? For me, I see imagined images. For example, if showering with my eyes closed and washing my arm, I see an imagined hand scrubbing an imagined arm. Or if I close my eyes right now, I see an imagined window where the real window is. In other words: when I close my eyes, I try to recreate the real world within my imagination.

But I believe this type of imagining violates the concept of being-present and living-in-the-now. So for the last few days I’ve been practicing NOT seeing imagined things when I close my eyes. When showering and my eyes close for instance, I now focus on what I can actually see, which is nothing, or more accurately: mottled darkness.

Even with my eyes open I’ll oftentimes imagine I can see something I can’t. If I wash my back for example, I’ll imagine seeing my hand scrub my back from a third-person perspective. But now I try to see the shower door in front of me and simply feel the sensation on my back — without trying to “see” it take place within my mind.

I asked my friend what she sees when she closes her eyes, and she said: yellow or red or white. Through further questioning, she did seem to corroborate a mottled nature to the color — so not a complete solid. I found it odd that it was a brighter shade instead of darkness like my experience. And, she said she did not tend to imagine things when her eyes closed.

My over-imagining probably contributes toward my tendency for sleeplessness as well. When I close my eyes at night, my mind wanders through an imagined world instead of turning off. Whereas if I simply saw the mottled darkness that was there, my mind would naturally quiet-down and drift-off to sleep.

Another issue with seeing an imagined world, is my tendency for negativity. When making-up a world in my head, it tends to be filled with the worst stuff I can imagine. Whereas the world outside my head is actually a cheerier place. So because of this, it behooves me to stop imagining a pseudo-world inside my head.

Path of Presence

I just finished reading The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment by Eckhart Tolle. I liked it. It definitely aligned with my current perspective of existence. The primary difference though, was his insistence on the need to get to now. In other words, if you’re not striving to become present within each moment of the day, then you’re doing enlightenment wrong — and I think he has a point.

One of my longtime goals has been to reach “enlightenment”. Growing up, I was attracted to the martial-arts and Asian-mysticism — I wanted those sweet kick-ass powers you get when you become a Kung-Fu Master. But even after I stopped wanting chi-powered fireballs to shoot from my hands, I still held on to the goal of enlightenment. And instead of kung-fu, I saw meditation and ancient spiritual texts as the gateway.

But intermittent meditation and the occasional reading do not enlightenment make. You need a practice. You need a path to walk. Currently, I blip in and out of deep spiritual understanding and spend most of my time lost in life. I’ve been waiting for enlightenment to kick-in. But through the goal of presence, there’s genuine practice, an actual path to take.

And so presence is going to be my practice for the time being. I’ve been trying it out since I started reading the book and I like the results so far. I was also highlighting a lot while reading, so I’ll be going back over the book for the purpose of taking notes and studying the material a bit more — plus it reminds me to remain present.