Can you just let it be? Can you just be in the moment? Do you understand what I mean by those two questions?
“Just being in the moment” is a simple enough concept. But doing it is surprisingly difficult. The nature of my mind, and the minds of most people, is to think about things all the time. I'm always observing the outside world, calculating distances, determining colors and shapes, making decisions, and discerning between different things.
I could plug my ears with cotton attempting to minimize outside distractions. But then I’d just turn all my stimulations and judgments into myself. I'd wander around like a mouse in a maze looking for a piece of cheese. I'd be looking for solutions to problems. I’d do things such as try to figure out where I'll be in 10 minutes, try to structure my next deal, try to figure out something that will bring me pleasure, or try to avoid discomfort I was facing.
For the most part I'm always actively thinking about something else other than what's going on right now, what's happening in this very moment. And that begs a good question: What benefits will I get from being in the present moment?
There is a time and a place for everything. At times, the best and most intelligent things to do are to calculate, judge, discern, and decide. Sometimes it's necessary to plan and strategize to ensure our survival and the survival of those who are close to us.
However, such thinking can become obsessive. When it does, the obsession can become a distraction and can even feel painful. When we're thinking obsessively, the obsessive thoughts just flow and flow and become unmanageable. Our thinking is out of control at that point.
The distraction that is fueled by obsessive thinking is overwhelming. It's as if you have a marching band in your head that's blasting trumpets and pounding drums. Not only is it annoying, but it stops us from hearing the subtle, beautiful messages that are the backdrop to our consciousness.
We all have both similarities and differences from each other regarding emotions and circumstances that drive our own obsessive thinking. One thing then many struggle with is anger. Some philosophies speak of anger as being totally inappropriate and destructive under just about any circumstances. I would disagree.
Anger is a natural human emotion. It's only inappropriate and destructive when it's not handled properly. When we repress our anger, it builds up inside of us in harms us. When we don't express our anger in safe, nonviolent, compassionate ways, then the anger harms others as well as ourselves.
We can train ourselves to sense anger and handle it properly. When anger wells up, you can take a deep breath and attempt to find compassion in the situation that you’re in. And it's also helpful to understand that anger might be sourced in something negative within us—perhaps character flaws or patterns of inappropriate responses to things that harmed us emotionally in the past.
We must engage in soul searching to get to the root of our anger, whether anger about a specific occurrence in the moment or repeated problems with inappropriate anger. But we cannot live in denial of anger.
There are times when denial is appropriate. In certain circumstances denial will keep our emotions from overwhelming us and causing us to act inappropriately in the spur of the moment. But continual denial of emotions is psychologically very unhealthy. We have to learn how to work through our emotions and process them properly.
Meditation can be invaluable in helping us to not become overwhelmed by distractions and surges of negative emotions. Just the act of finding a short period of time each day to be still with our mind and body simultaneously will go a very long way. A good starting point is to commit to three minutes a day of a simple breathing exercise. This exercise will consist of taking 10 very deep, very slow breaths followed by 10 long, slow exhalations. During that time, your attention should be focused on absolutely nothing but those breaths.
Over time, that exercise will benefit you. From there you can move on more challenging and potentially more rewarding practices. But you must not fall into the trap that many do—becoming discouraged if you do not experience impressive results quickly.
Some feel that the concept of focusing very intently on virtually any activity and regarding it as a meditation doesn't seem logical. Nevertheless, it works. I'd like to give a fictitious example of what this might look like. Suppose you are a seamstress tasked with sewing pillowcases. The manager at your workplace gives you work instructions as follows:
“As you're making your pillowcases, give it your undivided and very focused attention. Pay attention to the moment in which you're working on one particular pillowcase. Sew that pillowcase as if it was the only thing you were going to do for the rest of your life. Do not let yourself get distracted by boredom. Do not let yourself he distracted by thoughts of being somewhere else. Do not be distracted by hunger pains before meals. If you have an itch on your leg, scratch it quickly and then bring yourself back to your task. Then focus on the stitch, the fabric, the needle, and the thread as you continue.”
In this fictitious instance, sewing a pillowcase would be a perfect example of a meditation. It would unquestionably be a meditation session that would enable the worker to operate at peak capacity. And the worker would simultaneously improve their mental and emotional functionality in a way that would serve them well in all areas of life, work-related and otherwise.
Invest the time necessary to make yourself a skilled practitioner of meditation. You will tap into powers that will begin to liberate you from mental pain, confusion, doubts, misconceptions, and erroneous understandings about your life. And you will begin to get there when you commit to just three minutes per day of meditation every day from this day forward.