ALL our thoughts are orientated towards the past, present and future and are viewed as either positive or negative. Obviously dwelling on the past with feelings of regret, or worrying about the future with anxiety, are undesirable states of mind. And it seems far more desirable to remember a happy memory, or fantasise about a wonderful future.
While remembering better times can bring temporary relief if times are hard, a better long-term strategy is to accept things as they are and find a way to resolve the situation. Further to this, fantasizing about a wonderful future can be positive if it gives extra drive, but the trouble is that it will only lead to disappointment if things don’t go quite as planned.
The past is important to learn from and the future to plan towards. Problems occur when the mind persistently dwells or worries, thinking about all manner of things that don’t actually help resolve anything. To be truly present doesn’t discount thoughts from the past and future, but instead necessitates being ‘awake’ to these thoughts in the present moment.
Of course we need to have goals and ambitions in life, but usually we associate goals with the future. However, perhaps paradoxically, the goal here is orientated towards becoming more present. And this helps us to stop struggling towards a future that never arrives. Instead we are able to accept things as they are and find peace as unhelpful thoughts dissipate and the mind is able to become still.
Being present helps us to truly enjoy and experience life and the varied qualities of everything that we come into contact with. By being present our sense of taste becomes sharper, colors become more vivid, songs more lyrical and sensations more acute.