What is it that is keeping me from relaxing in the present moment?

If meditation is understood as being able to keep our mind in the present moment (which is one major foundational understanding of it), then a useful question to ask ourselves each day is “What is it within my experience of the present moment right now that I am resisting entering into?” On one level it seems as if the present moment should be the simplest and most natural space to enter into, and yet we resist.

Rather than giving you the answer to this question in an abstract or philosophical manner, I’ll just outline my experience of this over the last weekend, and then offer some conclusions based around this.

Last weekend (it is now Monday) I noticed an uneasy feeling that was preventing me from feeling at comfortable with myself and with my circumstances. It seemed as if my mind was on a hair trigger, as soon as I sat down to try and relax, all sorts of reasons to  feel dissatisfied or uneasy would start forming in my mind. So, recognizing that I had something of a challenge on my hands, I asked myself the question “What is it that is causing me to feel uneasy in the present moment and unable to relax?” I just sat and breathed with this question for a while, looking into my body and mind for an answer. Rationally I discovered no real reason for the unease, life is going quite well, no big crisis, nothing REALLY to feel bad about. However, when I looked in my body, on the energy level I found that there was what I would describe as a nervous “tick” in the centre of my chest. This is to say that there was a very uncomfortable energy in the centre of my chest that was creating a natural feeling of discomfort and dis-ease within my mind and body.

It seemed like it was something that I could not shift straight away, and so I made a decision “If I cannot shift this uncomfortable feeling, then I am just going to have to ‘be’ with it, and make sure that I don’t allow it to affect my thinking, feeling and behaviour in any kind of negative way”.

So, having made this decision, my main task over the next 36 or so hours that it took for this heart energy to clear was simply to “be” with this uncomfortable energy and mindfully exercise my willpower in such a way that the energy was not able to manifest in any way beyond just being an uncomfortable feeling.

The act of choosing to be with the uncomfortable feeling, and use my willpower to not allow it to cause a problem is an example of when we need to make an extra effort to be present, even if there is a certain amount of willpower and effort involved.

Key points:

  • Asking yourself the question “What is it that is keeping me from entering into the present moment” is a very useful way of bringing yourself back to the present moment, even if you can feel resistance to it.
  • Asking the question regularly enables you to get to know the reasons you personally avoid being in the present moment much more intimately.
  • Sometimes being in the present moment means exerting your willpower and courage, and being compassionately honest with yourself.
  • Learning to be aware and take care of your mind and body when they are unhappy and uncomfortable is just as important, maybe more so than being present when things are going well.

 Read related article on Toby’s Mentalfitnessnow blog: “Why you need to commit to what is happening in your life now, whether it is what you want or not, and the trap of wishing you were somewhere else.”

©Toby Ouvry 2010, you are welcome to use this article, but you must seek Toby’s permission first! Contact info@tobyouvry.com

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