Meditation and Relaxation in the Moment
From Wellbeing.com.au written by Natropath Caroline Robertson
Russian philosopher, Gurdgieff subjected his students to a technique called the “stop exercise” to develop their present awareness. At unexpected times he would spontaneously call out “stop” and students would freeze, focussing their full attention on their current thoughts and actions. A similar idea was explored in Alduus Huxley’s last novel “Island.” In his utopian paradise parrots would constantly sing out “Stop pay attention” to remind inhabitants to be totally conscious.
Try pausing now. Focus your attention on your thoughts. Where are you now? Are you in the future wondering ‘how long is this article?’ ‘Do I have time to read it?’ Or are you pondering the past thinking ‘I’ve encountered this topic before’ or ‘I should have done more today’. Alternatively you may be totally in the moment. Now relax, let go of any extraneous thoughts and surrender your full awareness to now. Sense your body, breath, surroundings and the act of reading. Imagine time is standing still so you have nowhere to go, nothing to do and nothing to think. Release all tension from your body.
Can you feel your awareness shift to a new level of perception through meditation? This intense focus creates the clarity to experience things as they really are. Reality blossoms under the light of our attention so we view everything from a fresh, child-like perspective. However it is challenging to maintain this focus for long, as within seconds the mind strays to future or past concerns. In fact, NLP experts estimate that we spend only about one percent of our time in present consciousness.
Ascertaining whether we drift to the past or future indicates our psychological tendency. To determine whether we are inclined to lag in the past or flee to the future try the following exercise. Carry around a small note pad and pen. Over four hours be aware of your thoughts and dialogue. Whenever you are aware of your thoughts, categorise whether you were thinking of the past, moment or future. Write down a P for past, M for moment and F for future. At the end of the four hours tally up the results.
Though there is a productive side to our time-travelling inclination, it can perpetuate negative patterns. For example, if you counted mostly F’s you may have excessive future consciousness. Though far from a fixed rule, future-based people can be more prone to feel anxiety, frustration, restlessness, anger, irritability, impatience, worry, fear and dissatisfaction. Those with a majority of P’s are more attached to past concerns and experiences. The downside of this can be a predisposition to depression, guilt, resentment, bitterness, hopelessness, self-pity and a judgemental outlook.
Many of these feelings will dissipate when we come to the party of the present. Through life I’ve observed that predominantly happy people have the uncanny ability to spend the majority of their time in the moment. Their total presence allows them to be comfortable with others and themselves. They’ve made friends with the moment and don’t allow pressures of time to impinge on present pleasures. When we live in the present we experience pleasure with our full presence. We step into a state of “in-joy-ment” that only comes with complete awareness. When we mentally remove ourselves from the present we are unable to appreciate the fullness of now and become dissatisfied with life.