I can feel guilty about the past, apprehensive about the future, but only in the present can I act. The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness. — Abraham Maslow
You see, Maslow was saying this well before the mindfulness craze we find now find ourselves in. Perhaps there is something to it!
So…how to be in the present moment? I like simply starting by suggesting paying attention. If formal meditation feels like too much how about just taking a moment — right now — to pay attention? What can you hear in your environment, right now? What does the air feel like on your body? What is the temperature? Is the air moving or still? Humid or dry? What do you see about you, right now? What is the quality of light? Are there other living creatures around? Plants? Animals? What are the objects surrounding you? What do you feel in your body right now? Are there any sensations that stand out in your body? What if you started from your head and slowly scanned your body to your toes? What does it all feel like? Sit with all this for a few minutes.
There you have it. A short meditation, grounded in right now. And yes, it’s that simple really. That is the start of a practice.
More posts on Beyond Meds that explore the nature of meditation:
● Science of mindlessness and mindfulness… Take note that Ellen Langer is very clear about the fact that sitting meditation is not the only way to become mindful. I love how she doesn’t attach any particular belief system or set of practices with becoming mindful. There are many ways to pay attention as I’ve tried to make clear many times on this blog but since I do have my particular ways that I talk about frequently that may sometimes overshadow a larger message some of the time. We can all find a way that makes sense to us. Individually.
● The foundation of healing mental distress and of becoming a mature human adult – I’ve collected posts on this page that speak to embracing the full spectrum of our emotional inheritance as human beings. I’ve found that without acknowledging and integrating the darkest part of our psyches we cannot heal. We also cannot become fully mature adult human beings. One need not be labeled “mentally ill” or be sick for this to be an important part of our life’s work. Learning how to do this involves a lot of “paying attention.”
● Meditation, not all bliss and roses – A very common misunderstanding about meditation that can lead to discouragement is that it’s supposed to be all bliss and roses. That is simply not the case on the ground, so to speak. Sometimes meditation is about being with the dark and ugly and anxious parts of our being too. Meditation is about being with the whole spectrum of human psyche and emotion. We cannot know ourselves without becoming intimate with those parts too. That means it’s just not always fun or peaceful or calm to practice meditation. Though it can lead to all those things in time. It can help us learn to live more skillfully in general.
● Life as a meditation: my contemplative adventure — ”Formal” meditation — the kind where you set aside a specific time and sit on a cushion…I don’t do anymore and haven’t since I’ve been seriously ill. First it became impossible, but then I found another way of meditating deeply. What happened with my illness is that I learned that formal meditation is not always necessary for everyone, though I did start with more formal sitting years ago and it’s likely that it’s a good place to start, in general, if at all possible.
● Inhabiting our bodies in meditation — As we engage our somatic crisis, whatever it may be, we realize that embodied meditation is a very different and far more fruitful way to practice than the disembodied path we have been following. But this leaves us wondering just how to carry out our meditation in an embodied manner and inhabit our body in practice. Most fundamentally, meditating with the body involves paying attention to the body in a direct and non-conceptual way.
● Body-Centered Inquiry — This program deepens this capacity of allowance. Allowing oneself to feel more. He uses a process called RAIN — a practice for meeting all experience with acceptance, kindness and compassion. There are also forgiveness practices and body scans and much more. It’s an incredibly rich collection.