Awareness and insight Meditation techniques Presence and being present Primal Spirituality Zen Meditation

The Four Types of Present Moment Awareness

Hi Everyone,

Wishing you all the very best for the upcoming Chinese year of the water dragon, which I believe starts today! Please find below an article detailing not one but four types of present moment experience that we can cultivate, I hope you enjoy it!

Yours in the spirit of presence and being present,



Article of the Week:

The Four Types of Present Moment Awareness

Normally when we think or talk about meditating “in the present moment” the assumption is that there is only one type of present moment, and that it is this same one present moment that we are all talking about. Actually there are different types of present moment experience that we can tap into. Here are four, with each one I detail what it is, how it helps us, and how to do a simple meditation upon it.

The Primal Pre-Present
The pre-present is essentially the“present moment” before we had any idea of time. We could also think about it as being the “pre-conceptual present”Babies are always in the pre-present moment, because their minds have not developed the power of conceptuality, they have no idea of what the past or future is, and so their mind remains placed firmly in the here and now, before time existed! Likewise animals live in the pre-present because they have non-conceptual minds. Similarly trees and rocks can be thought of as abiding in the pre-present, the time before concepts and before the past and future came into existence!
Meditating on the pre-present enables us to relax, return to a state of innocent awareness, and tap into a state of deep regeneration and re-energization.
We ourselves can meditate on the pre-present simply by deeply observing a (peaceful) baby, or an animal, or sitting quietly in a landscape and just dropping our sense of time temporarily, becoming like a tree or a rock or a baby, with a mind that has forgotten all sense of time and abides in the peaceful space of the pre-present, the pre-time.

The Transient Present
This is the type of present moment that we most often think of as the present moment. That part of our experience that is in the here and now, accompanied by the feeling of there being a past from which we have come, and a future toward which we are going. This is the present moment that many mindfulness meditation practices help us to focus in. We cultivate this type of present moment experience by paying close attention to what is going on right now, on the immediate task that we are attending to. Cultivating this form of present moment awareness helps us to be more centered and grounded in our life, to manage stress more effectively, to savor our enjoyments and appreciate all that is good in our life.
We can cultivate this form of present moment awareness by spending specific periods of time in our daily routine where we try to do just one thing, and whilst we are doing it we train our mind to be fully present to the task at hand, not wondering anxiously about the future or re-living the past.

The Eternal Present
The eternal present is the space of awareness beyond time. Once we have become conceptually mature as adults, that is learned to operate within the space of past, present and future, the assumption can be that time is something “out there”. In reality time as we understand it conceptually is an invention of the human mind. To meditate on the eternal present is to recognize that the entire realms of past present and future are all contained within the context of the eternal, the timeless, and that this eternal timeless present is always present with us, right here, right now.
The eternal present in many ways resembles the primal pre-present, but to be able toreally appreciate and value the eternal present we have to have gone into conceptual time, understood and lived within it, and then see through its illusion. So you could say thatthe eternal present is the post-transient present!
Meditating on the eternal present gives us maturity of vision, depth of perception, a sense of everything possessing its own natural perfection, and opens us up to our first classical “enlightenment experiences”.
We can meditate on the eternal present by simply recognizing that every aspect of our experience right here right now is contained within the embrace of the eternal present, and learn to relax our awareness into that ever present, eternal space.

The Intuitive Present
The intuitive present is when we have gained substantial experience of the eternal present, and have developed the capacity to function in conventional time whilst at the same time remaining connected to the eternal present. As Ajahn Chah says it is the meditative experience of our mind being like “still water that moves, and moving water that it still”. From a present moment perspective it is as if time and eternity now fit together in our experience like a hand in a glove. Conventional time is like the glove, eternity is like the hand beneath that moves.
The intuitive present is not the same as our intuition in general, which can come in many forms such as our instinctive or emotional intuition.
Accessing the intuitive present signals the development of our capacity to engage fully in worldly life and spiritual life side by side, to live in the world whilst not being of the world so to speak. I don’t think there is ever a time when we move into a state where we no longer need to worry about our ego corrupting our spiritual perception, but our experience of the intuitive present certainly gives us a powerful tool to see everything that we experience within the context of our unfolding path to enlightenment.

© Toby Ouvry 2011, you are welcome to use or share this article, but please cite Toby as the source and include reference to his website