Simply be present – it’s harder than we may think

After having a religious crisis sometime in my teenage years, I abandoned many aspects of my spiritual life.  I would want to keep everything logical, I wanted to know the truth about things and did not want to hear any ambiguous or “fluffy” answers.  Additionally, if I was right about something, I was self-righteous about it and could sometimes be slightly very obnoxious, too.

Obnoxious little Omar realized over time that one of his biggest mistakes was to ever think he was in possession of the absolute truth – that he could declare certain religious beliefs to be unimportant or silly, and those who refuted it as wrong or just trying to cling to unjustified beliefs.  Over time it became very clear that every opinion possessed by a single person was based on that person’s unique life to date, and that the fact that some followed Jesus’ teachings while others took comfort in following Buddha’s made no difference whatsoever as to the quality of thinking and the integrity these people had.  Similarly, I was no better or worse off than others simply because I was going through a religious meltdown and did not follow anyone’s teachings. I was simply letting life teach me new lessons as I went through my days.

Over the past year I have been spending more time simply sitting and trying to be present.  This is one of those silly things you get to do when you have nothing else better to do — or so I once thought.  I realize now that even though meditation, being ‘in the moment,’ and paying attention to my breathing were activities I used to only engage in every once in a while when I had plenty of time at my disposal, they have become much more important activities for me over time.  I now seek the nourishment that meditation provides.  I look for the joy of being fully in the moment appreciating my breath and the sounds around me.  I find it shocking at times to observe that the world around me that I may sometimes block out or ignore can feel so alive once I let go of the incessant chatter in my head and choose to simply be present, right here and right now.  A great way to reset during a boring meeting, or at a time in which you feel anger boiling up inside, is to simply take a few deep breaths and observe those breaths and nothing else for a few seconds.

We live in a world that is constantly changing, and we seek to achieve more and more, but we go around trying to do that without truly paying attention to what is happening in the moment.  We strive for a better tomorrow, yet in constantly doing so we miss the days that are passing by.  We fail to appreciate that today we are better off than we were yesterday and we should be happy and grateful about it.  We forget that sometimes is time to reset, take a breath and simply be — be in the moment and not thinking about what will happen next or what happened yesterday.  Just appreciate this very moment we call present.  One of the most ironic things I’ve seen is that we spend weeks planning a great event, looking forward to it and how wonderful it will be, but when we are in the midst of the actual event our thoughts are elsewhere – wondering when the next great event will take place, or worrying about how much better dressed others are.  Let’s not lose sight of our present — at the end of our lives we realize it is all we ever had and will ever have.

According to meditators and scientist, a simple 20-30 minutes in the morning is all we need to make a big difference in our lives by learning to be present and mindful.  That’s less than 2% of our day for us to sit, feel our breathing, let go of all thinking, and that way reset and keep going with our lives feeling more nourished and alive than ever before.  The peaceful feeling I have after simply taking out that time in the mornings is good enough to convince me to wake up earlier, stop the urge to start doing, and simply sit.

“Don’t just do something, sit there!”


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