The present moment is all you have. The future hasn’t happened yet and the past already has. We only ever realistically live in the space occupied by the here and now. Yoga, meditation, nature, and animals are all capable of immersing us back to the present.
That’s the thing, though. We constantly have to be “brought back” to it. Why can’t we live eternally in the here and now? Why can’t we revel in our senses? Can we not be acutely aware of the things we smell, touch, taste, and see without having to consciously try? Why can’t we escape the constant mental “chatter” that diverts our attention away from everything we have to be grateful for?
Our minds were not designed to be happy. Mother nature, in all her complex and logical reasoning, has designed the human brain to constantly seek. Our unconscious mind forever on the lookout for the next threat, we have evolved to eliminate dormancy—to continually pursue security in whatever form that may take. If we are living in the moment, how can we prepare for the impending winter, the shortage of food, or the skills needed to attract a mate? If we stop and smell the flowers for too long, we may starve.
Our brains are still living in the distant past while our bodies reside in the 21st century. The technologies that have made our lives easier have not yet been internalized by our incessant, primitive mental wiring. The mental wiring that has allowed us to survive for thousands of years has now become a hindrance. The perpetual mental babble has gone from a necessity to an obstacle. We must calm our thoughts in order to achieve goals, alleviate tension, and allow for presence. When our minds are no longer occupied by the essentials of survival, no longer focused on necessary tasks or made to feel useful, they run rampant.
Constrained by our primordial mental wiring, we are left utterly depressed and anxious, even in the wake of technologies that have solved most of our ancestors’ woes. Today we have things like protein powders, microwaves, fast food, prescription pills, weapons, and televisions. No longer are we tasked with foraging for sustenance, crafting weapons to ward off predators, and collecting supplies to build shelter. We are literal animals in a space age, technologically-advanced society. The human species has not yet evolved to process, fathom, or comprehend the nuances and complexities of the 21st century.
Living in modern times is stranger than fiction. Things like social media and instant online connection have not only created new, complex virtual dimensions, but have cheapened our social connections, creating a false sense of kinship and community. Technology has separated us. It has confined us to screens and buildings with fluorescent lighting. It has disconnected us from our food, forcing us to consume blindly with no link back to the source. It has imprisoned us into metal vehicles and concrete jungles. We have lost touch with nature, and thus, we have lost touch with our souls.
Getting back to the present moment is a way to reconnect. It’s a way to ward off years of societal conditioning that has encouraged us to consume, feed our egos, and strive for material wealth. Society has taught us that happiness is just around the corner or can only reside in the future. If only we had more money, a better body, and cooler friends, then surely we would feel fulfilled. It is only when we can sit still with our thoughts and make the conscious decision to control them that we can ward off years of societal conditioning and evolutionary mental wiring. It is the only way to see that we already have everything we need. We must control our thoughts. Reprimand them like you would a naughty child. For the misbehaved child has had thousands of years to wreak havoc and is encouraged to do so within the collective consciousness of modern society.
It takes work. Training your brain to resist negative thought patterns and be present is no easy task and often requires daily practice. With enough practice, though, you find that being able to be present will become increasingly natural and will ultimately allow you to feel grateful. Once you realize that the constant seeking and ruminating of the mind is never ending, you come to see that life happens in the in-betweens. The good stuff happens when we aren’t paying attention, when we’re too busy daydreaming about more money or more followers. The good stuff in life is everywhere, you just have to stop and smell the flowers.