The Present Moment – Eternal moment of Now

The main focus of Buddhism is to live in the present moment completely, realizing through “experience” (by meditating and helping others) our interconnectedness and interdependence with all sentient beings and all things down to the subatomic particles (science knows this as quantum entanglement). Though this can be the hardest thing that you’ll ever do, it is essential to focus on the present moment gently.  Don’t rush, follow your breath, take your time, and if you find yourself thinking of something simply let it go and return to the breath.

Do not dwell in the past,
do not dream of the future,
concentrate the mind on the present moment.
– Shakyamuni Buddha

present moment

Shakyamuni Buddha

I find the following meditation practice to be helpful and it also shows how difficult it is to stay present:

  1.  Find a comfortable position sitting down (preferably on a cushion, but you can use a chair if you need to) with the spine straight like a flagpole.  When you’re doing it right, the muscles in your torso will be relaxed.

  2. Close your eyes halfway but don’t directly concentrate on your immediate surroundings and begin to breathe deeply to settle yourself.

  3. When you’re ready let your breath come and go naturally, no judgement, just observe

  4. With each inhale and exhale count 1-10, but if you find yourself thinking about something go back to 1.  If you do have meditative superpowers and do get to 10 then go back to 1 and repeat.

I’ve observed the following in “myself” while doing this practice:  Inhale 1, Exhale 1, Inhale 2, Observe myself thinking about the future, then back to one.

If you can’t seem to get past 1, don’t take it personally, and just start again.  No need to feel down or beat yourself up over it.

May you and I attain Buddhahood for the benefit of all sentient beings!!!

If you would please share your thoughts or insights in the comments below.

If you’re shopping for the holidays for a Buddhist friend or family member then check out the link below on bargain books on Buddhism.

I look forward to a very interesting discussion!

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18 Responses to The Present Moment – Eternal moment of Now

  1. Carolyn says:

    Living the present moment is something that is so hard for me. Meditation and breathing really helped me a lot. I feel like it takes time and a lot of practice before you can really let go of all the daily stressful thoughts that invade your mind while trying to relax. I will practice your breathing technique before bedtime. Hopefully I will get better at this. Thanks!

  2. Merceadez says:

    I’m not much for dwelling on the past but I do have a huge problem with worrying over the future. I’m going to try this meditation practice and see how far I get. I think its good to take a moment to stop thinking and stop worrying. Thanks for the suggestion.

    Merceadez

    • Ian H says:

      Hi Merceadez,

      I know what you mean. We constantly worry over the future thinking that we have a concrete self that is completely seperated from everything else. And so our reality reflects our fears and worries, and we end up getting into a self-fulfilling prophecy, which we then interpret as evidence of the fear that we worried about to begin with.

      If you don’t find this technique helpful, I can suggest others. I will be covering various types of Buddhist meditation to cultivate various helpful qualities within our “selves”.

  3. Nichole says:

    Meditation is for sure good for everyone and we should all do it. Now on that note I am guilty of not doing it 🙁 I am a high stress person and know that I should meditate sometimes a few times in a day.
    I did try the meditation you laid out and I think I will try to do that every morning and when I get stressed. Living in the present is very hard to do sometimes 🙂
    Cheers
    Nichole

    • Ian H says:

      Hi Nichole,

      I can definitely understand. It is a bit difficult at first, or even very difficult, but don’t beat yourself up, just go back to watching the breath. If the counting is too much in a situation you might find yourself in then just keep it simple, breathe through your nose and really concentrate and pay attention to your natural breathing rhythm.

      Hope that helps a little.

  4. Seany says:

    I would say that I am half-buddhist, because I visit the temple whenever my grandma does, but I haven’t actually tried meditation before. it’s always so noisy around here, and i often get interrupted. sometimes things are so busy, i cant even think of getting a break. Maybe I need to intentionally set aside time to do some peaceful meditation sometime…
    thanks so much for the informational post!

    • Ian H says:

      Which temple do you visit with your grandma?

      Yes, setting aside time in the day for meditation or contemplation of the teachings and how they can apply to daily living, I think is essential in today’s busy world.

      If I were you I would study the texts, the sutras and the sayings of the Buddha. Not sure how familiar you are with sutras but I would think that they would chant some of them at the temple.

      There are also a lot of great books that make it easier to understand, that I carry in my online store. 🙂

  5. Alice says:

    It’s true, a lot of worries we have in our thoughts are about our past or our future. That makes us to feel bad about our “Now”.
    Often we think about our bad past experiences and it seems like the now is the same and nothing will ever change. So in the same moment we build our future on our bad thoughts about the past.
    I really think it helps when we learn to “control” our thoughts, so that we can live in the now an here!

    • Ian H says:

      I agree, And when our viewpoint changes and deepens as we continue to study and practice then we also find that our mind quiets down a bit. We begin to perceive the oneness, the interconnectedness of all living beings. And there is no end to this journey, when happiness itself is the path.

  6. LakanDula says:

    This is interesting, not something I normally see in meditation circles. “Don’t feel beat up” that is definitely true, the point and intent of meditations is to RELAX and if’s making people feel beat up, then it’s not meditation. It is true, over-thinking about the past and the future is actually not healthy, it’s important to learn from the past for the future, but not to dwell too long on either.

    • Ian H says:

      Thanks for stopping by! Yes, I agree that ruminating on the past or future can lead to unnecessary stress which could lead to health problems. And meditation is one way to combat this stress.

  7. netp says:

    Thank you, I’ve been meaning to get meditation into my daily routine for a while now but have failed at managing to keep at it, then it feels I’m at square one. Do you have any advice how I could start implementing it – do you think I should take a course or a class even? I do also struggle with intrusive thoughts when I try and meditate and this is something I need to work on, but guess this will improve with practice. thanks

    • Ian H says:

      I think a course or class would be a good way to start. Or you can buy audio guided meditations that walk you through the process gently. Here is an example of one that I recommend for those who are new to meditation.

  8. Molly says:

    Finding peace is a goal that most of us want to achieve, and I guess that many of us have differing ideas how to get to that point. I think that some people may feel something doing this, yet I still find more peace reading my Bible every day than meditating. Still, each to their own!

    • Ian H says:

      Thanks for your comment. I totally agree with you, Buddhism isn’t for everyone, each of us needs to find our own paths. Interestingly like you, I prefer reading a part of a sutra to meditation. In fact in the Mahayana tradition scriptural study is regarded as important (if not more important) than just simply meditating. The just sit and meditate approach came from a Westernized version of Zen that was introduced in the US. Since then what most people see as Buddhism is really an unattainable ideal of the perfect meditator.

  9. Melisse says:

    These thoughts on meditation are interesting, as are the comments and your replies. I understand that some people prefer reading to the meditation. What I don’t understand is why are your eyes supposed to be half closed when meditating? I either pray with my eyes closed or read with them open. I think to close my eyes half way would be the hardest part of meditating.

    • Ian H says:

      On the Buddhist path both reading scripture and meditation are essential for realization of the truth about reality. You can also close your eyes when you’re meditating, but i find that it actually makes meditation much more difficult because then we tend to identify and get into our heads and thoughts too much. Meditation is about being in touch with and at peace with the present moment just as it is so that’s why many Zen schools and Tibetan as well advise to keep the eyes half-open and cast downwards, not particularly focusing on anything.

      That being said, do what is comfortable for you and the reading of scripture itself can become a meditative experience.

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