Last week I wrote a blog about defining what "time-type" you are: past, present, or future. Briefly, there seems to be three types of people when it comes to the concept of time. Those who are more past-oriented tend to be dwellers; those who base their existence on the present live for the moment but sometimes lack foresight; and those who are future-oriented live for upcoming goals. I myself am a future person, and I decided to spend a day living solely in the present. I was quite surprised to find that it was much easier than I imagined. Every time I found my mind wandering into thoughts of what might come, I created a physical feeling to ground myself (for example, squeezing my fingers together tightly, or pressing my tongue firmly into the roof of my mouth.) This wasn't some sort of meditation exercise; it was simply a way to bring myself back into the current moment. I would then focus on one pleasurable sensation that was going on at the present time. It could have been the sight of a sunbeam shining through the window, a song, the awareness of breath entering and leaving my lungs...or even something as simple as just becoming conscious of and grateful for what I have. At that moment, I could feel my mind shift back into the here and now, and there it stayed.
I never realized how much tension lies in living for the future. When you are constantly waiting for the next thing, you can never be fully relaxed. Think of an animal, poised to strike, all of its energy and focus fixated on what is about to happen. In the anticipation of the moment, the animal isn't aware of anything other than what is to come. It only wants to hurry up and get the attack over with, so it can get back to its normal state. But when you have nothing other than the future to strive for, there is no normal state....only one tension-filled moment after another.
This exercise in change has been incredibly freeing; I have never been as relaxed or free of fear than I have in the past week. Everything-every sight, every taste, every human interaction-is so much more intense when you are fully engaged in the present moment.