Our suffering stems from ignorance. We react because we do not know what we are doing, because we do not know the reality of ourselves. The mind spends most of the time lost in fantasies and illusions, reliving pleasant or unpleasant experiences and anticipating the future with eagerness or fear. While lost in such cravings or aversions, we are unaware of what is happening now, what we are doing now. Yet surely this moment, now, is the most important for us. We cannot live in the past; it is gone. Nor can we live in the future; it is forever beyond our grasp. We can live only in the present. If we are unaware of our present actions, we are condemned to repeating the mistakes of the past and can never succeed in attaining our dreams for the future. But if we can develop the ability to be aware of the present moment, we can use the past as a guide for ordering our actions in the future, so that we may attain our goal.
So very true, especially the bolded part. It's easy to relive experiences that have emotional weight while sleepwalking, essentially, through our daily lives.
This quote, and others, from an AOM post on Mindfulness. Remember if you click that AOM is NSFW. Oh, the pretty men. The pretty, naked men. Did I mention that they're naked? Look, there's me, lost in reliving the pleasant experience of perusing AOM's offering this morning. :)
*Update: Wrote this entry this morning with the intent of coming home tonight and seeing how I did.
Many years ago, I studied Buddhism. Not because I needed some sort of religious compass, but because I was searching to calm my mind and spirit.
Gryff is helping me type this right now. I'm going to snap the little bastard's neck if he doesn't get off the 5.
Okay, back to being calm and all that b.s. So what I discovered is that daily mediation and mindfulness are separate things, that you can meditate once or twice a day, emptying the mind (or attempting to -- it is useful to realize that meditation is an exercise, that you are training the mind and JFC Gryff get off the damn keyboard), but the rest of the day, as you go about your business, you should attempt to remain in the moment. Being "in the moment" is a phrase that gets bandied about a lot, and for me, conjures up images of surfer dudes living "in the moment" on some huge wave. But anyway.
Just like meditation, the more you do it, the better you become. The more you notice. You will suddenly pick up details of your environment that you never would have noticed before. What this ultimately leads to, if you are also studying Buddhism and its tenets of kindness, is a greater compassion for those around you and -- get this -- yourself. Yeah. True.
You might ask why, if Buddhism and meditation and mindfulness are so freakin' awesome, did I ever abandon those practices? Well, I never abandoned them completely, and so many of the lessons I learned have stayed with me through the years. In recent times, especially, I've had to look at those who have not behaved well and, instead of becoming angry, I've felt the compassion in my heart for them, and begun to think deeply about why they would behave so, the emotions in their own hearts that lead them to say and do such things. Honestly, it's made me feel quite sad for them (which has taken, in place, the burden of feeling sad for myself). And this has led to forgiveness, and that single thing is at the center of all human interaction. So rarely do we forgive or have compassion for one another, while so quickly we leap to judgment and anger.
Today, I had a difficult work day, but it wasn't so much mentally taxing as purely physical. And while normally, I would allow my mind to roam in those above-mentioned fantasies and replays without pause, I instead concentrated on noticing exactly what was happening in the moment. The way the dog's fur lifted, the way the water droplets went along the fur, the way the brush went through the fur. I'm a dog groomer, FYI. And so, although my mind constantly wanted to go back to those negative thought patterns, I gently brought it back to the moment, again and again.
And though I am exhausted beyond belief this evening, I feel a new clarity and peace. It will, I'm sure, be short-lived. But it is the constant application of this technique which, over time, produces better results.
Perhaps unrelated, but I am extending the same love to my short story in progress, which is now nearly finished. Mindfulness, instead of racing to the end. Allowing each moment to exist, to be noticed.
That's it. I'm going to kill this cat. I've dropped him on the floor twice. You think he'd get the message. Well, Gryff cat wants to share love too. And nobody is more "in the moment" than this guy.