From time to time I plan to post anonymous mentoring moments between myself and students that I feel will benefit others as well. Recently I had an email exchange with a student who is currently dealing with some difficult situations. This is one piece of advice I offered as part of our work together on the student’s healing path.
Hi [student name withheld], I’m glad you enjoyed the session. Don’t worry about keeping up with all the meditations, but keep practicing something on a daily basis. Consistency is the key.
I want you to focus on living in the present moment. Every time you recognize that you are worrying, feeling stressed or anxious, I want you to pretend you can step outside of your own body and mind and watch yourself. Pretend like you are an outside impartial observer. Just observe the emotion with no attachment and let it slowly disappear. Wake up and look around at things. I mean really notice things around you fully. Notice your breath and sounds you may not have noticed. You will likely realize that you are not fully experiencing the present, but instead are wavering between worries from the past and concern for the future. All you have is right now. That is all that is real. The rest is delusion.
Right now your mind is controlling you instead of the real authentic you controlling your mind. The only thing that is real is what is happening right now. The past is just a collection of previous now moments that have passed, and the future is just potential now moments waiting to happen. You can’t live in any of those moments. You can’t change the past and the future is unknown. You can only change what is happening at this exact moment.
Live fully in the present and nothing can hurt you. Enlightenment is living fully in the moment all the time so that you completely experience things, but worries and concerns can’t touch you. Most of us will experience worry, stress, and negative emotions, but we can use the path to enlightenment to help us through them. The answer is in focusing yourself on the present over and over again, and through watching your emotional reactions as if you are an outside observer.