The present moment. A place of being aware and present in the now, of being a witness to whatever is that is. This is a state of being where we don’t insert our own ideas and prejudices but merely notice what we notice. It’s a place we no longer need to be “someone,” yet we are still there and aware. In the present moment we release our ideas of who we think we are and what we think the world is. It’s a place where we have released our need to have to do something to make ourselves or the world better. This state of being is a deep, unquestioned knowing that what is, is.
Before we can learn to maintain this state of being, it helps to first learn how to get there. Since the present moment is not about us but about what is, one of the first things we need to figure out is how to let go of ourselves. In our spiritual journey, as we learn who we are and what we are, we find we are more than our ability to perceive with our body’s senses and more than what we think in our heads. We discover we are more something we’re not than something we are. If the present moment is being, then “being-who-we-are” is less than that, so let’s remove the words (and the ideas of) “who we are” so all that is left is being. The present moment.
The idea of not being something or someone can stir deep, and sometimes uncomfortable, feelings — for many reasons. We have grown so used to being someone that habit alone will set up a resistance.
Fear lends its voice: “What will become of me if I give up myself?”
Pride steps in: “I worked so hard to be a wonderful person, why give that up?”
Our need for purpose speaks up: “If all I am doing is just Being what’s the point? Where will I find meaning in life?”
All of these “‘what ifs” are voiced by the “us” we believe we are, the “us” that wants to continue being just that, yet we know there is more because we are still not yet feeling the deep peace we are sure is ours. We are still distracted by insignificant events, large and small, on our road to ourselves.
The first step then in being (in) the present moment is to learn to let go. We cannot be the present moment if we are bringing things to it. We must come empty handed and remain so, for in that complete emptiness is complete openness to receive (and to let go again). It is said that a cup cannot be filled if it already has something in it. The present moment is like an empty cup with an open bottom, always ready to receive, and when receiving it holds onto nothing, letting it flow through. In a sense then we are not “going with the flow” but allowing the flow to go through us. As we witness this flow, we have the feeling we know, and when we Know we know.
How does one let go this much? One of the best ways I have found is to practice being still. Sounds simple, may take some practice. Find a quiet place and a quiet time, sit and just be still. I start by saying in my head, “Be still.” Since you are probably not accustomed to this kind of do-nothing behavior, it may seem like a struggle at first as restlessness (or sleep) will dominate your early sessions. If so, be kind to yourself and let go of judging those interruptions and repeat your mantra, “Be still.” If, as what happened to me, you stay with it and persevere come what may, you will slowly but surely find a new sense of being. A sense of knowing, quietness and peace. With practice being still, you will find your present moment awareness emerging and hanging around longer and longer. Soon it will become your daily way of life. How will you know when you are there? It’s not that mysterious. You will just know.