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“The secret of health for both mind and body is not to mourn for the past, not to worry about the future, or not to anticipate troubles, but to live in the present moment wisely and earnestly.” ~ Buddha

I can remember when I first saw the book “The Power of Now”. After I got several tools to fulfill my dreams, for instance in goal-achievement and personal effectiveness, I expected the message to be “Don’t procrastinate, do it now!” This is the Now-habit and it is a powerful habit to develop.

But this is not what The Now or in other words the present moment is ultimately about. Although on the surface this is a part of it, it has a far deeper meaning than this. Depending on how much experience one has with spiritual teachings, the present moment has a different meaning.

The present moment and time: The illusion of time

The present moment is the only thing where there is no time. It is the point between past and future. It is always there and it is the only point we can access in time. Everything that happens, happens in the present moment. Everything that ever happened and will ever happen can only happen in the present moment. It is impossible for anything to exist outside of it.

Therefore it is obvious, that past and future don’t have a reality on their own. They are just mental concepts in our heads. Past is the thinking of memories while future is the projection ahead. But anything can really happen only in the present moment. Nothing else regarding time really exists in reality.

This realization shows that there is no time other than the concept of it. I personally see the perception of time as the perception of change of form. If we think about a mechanical watch, the watch changes it’s form through a well laid mechanic and is therefore showing “the time”. Even digital clocks are doing nothing else than an ongoing changing in form and by this working as an instrument to measure this progress. Seeing it like this you could say that there is only one moment in which forms are in constant motion. Even memories stored in our brains are changing forms. In that way you could say that it is not time changing along the world, it is the world of form changing along the one present moment.

Become present

Going into the present moment means to become present oneself. All kinds of meditations and spiritual practices are aiming to become present. To center ourselves in the present moment we have to get the past out of our head and stop projecting to the future. What remains is the here and now. Then all of our attention flows into the present moment.

Maybe you want to try it out right now. Then remove all past and future and center yourself in the “vertical dimension of time”:

What is the present moment

The vertical dimension of time is the present moment, the one point out of the concept of time. What happens if we center ourselves in the present moment is that the mind stops to make noise. We become present and are not distracted by our mind. If this happens we are able to connect with our deeper self and we become more alive and awake.

Besides these explanations, regardless of how much we put into them, it is as Tolle states: “Understanding present is being present”. And the key to becoming present is the move out of the concept of time.

The present moment as the entry point to spiritual awakening

Thoughts stop. The mind becomes silent. What shines through then is the energy of our being. We can dive much deeper into this vertical dimension of time and discover more about our true nature. To dive into the present moment is also the goal of meditation. The present moment is the entry point, or as Eckhart Tolle calls it the main portal into spiritual awakening.

The power of the present moment

One could think that being in the present moment means that we lose control over the future. Gandhi said “The future depends on what we do in the present.” And that entails all the wisdom that is needed here. If we set goals or develop a vision of the future this is very powerful. But then we execute towards this goal in the present moment and the quality of the work we produce towards the goal depends on what we do in the present moment. The more we are present, the better the quality of our doing will be.

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26 comments

  1. Comment by Evelyn Lim | Attraction Mind Map

    Evelyn Lim | Attraction Mind Map Reply September 1, 2008 at 10:01 am

    Now is the probably the most powerful word of all in the personal development niche. Yet the “now” tip has been recommneded for ages already, as you’ve pointed out. I also enjoyed Eckhart Tolle’s book and would also recommend it as essential reading!

    Evelyn Lim | Attraction Mind Map’s last blog post: 68 Seconds Of Pure Thought: Visualize In 4 Creative Ways

  2. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply September 1, 2008 at 3:37 pm

    Evelyn, yes absolutely!

    Also I think there is an distinction between the now as in Personal Development and in Spirituality. in P.D. as in “Do it now!” or “Start something towards your just set goal now!” it is to develop momentum and to overcome inertia.

    In Spirituality it is the main entry-point for another state of consciousness and for realize our true being.

  3. Comment by Glen Allsopp

    Glen Allsopp Reply September 1, 2008 at 10:05 pm

    Excellent pos Myrko and great image to go along with it. One of my favourite aspects of Presence is that you can really be who you want to be. Just because you might think you are shy, there’s nothing stopping you from showing confident and social attributes right now. Your past does not matter, it is not who you are, you are who you are right now.

    Cheers,
    Glen

    Glen Allsopp’s last blog post: The Power of an Abundance Mindset

  4. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply September 2, 2008 at 12:38 am

    Hey Glen, yes. Every moment is a fresh and brand new one, exciting isn’t it!? :)

    “The past does not equal the future” (Tony Robbins) mixed with “The future depends on what we do in the present.” (Gandhi) seem to reflect what your comment is saying …

  5. Comment by Ariel

    Ariel Reply September 22, 2008 at 4:03 am

    Yeah, the power of Presence is huge. It’s amazing how clear reality becomes when the mind starts to grow quiet and the inner peace that was always there comes into conscious awareness.

    Ariel’s last blog post: Forcing Presence vs. Allowing Presence

  6. Comment by Robert

    Robert Reply January 3, 2009 at 9:10 pm

    We talk about the importance or being in the moment in many of our podcasts A Quiet Mind. We also work on ways to put it into practice through meditation and self-awareness. You should check us out sometime.

    thanks for the great article and the reminder to be present.
    robert

  7. Comment by Jody Allen Gorran

    Jody Allen Gorran Reply March 19, 2009 at 6:13 pm

    I share your joy with the present moment. I enjoy living without worry. It’s comforting to not be concerned with what has happened in the past nor what may happen in the future. What keeps me tied to the present moment is my faith in God that everything will work itself out.

    Jody Allen Gorran´s last blog post: Faith in God and Self-Improvement

  8. Comment by taney

    taney Reply July 27, 2009 at 4:42 am

    Wow! This is definitely something new for me! I’ve always believed in living in the present and enjoying every moment as they come, but not in the level as you described. I have read a lot of books that describe time as being an illusion, but your presentation of it was very detailed and moving!

    I’m a person that really likes visual depictions. I really appreciate you taking the time to create the X/Y axis chart. It really did help me see it in a different light. I’m definitely going to try shifting my perspective of time from the X-axis and Y-axis.

    I love it when thoughts stop and the mind becomes silent. Whether you want to call it emptying the mind or achieving mindfulness, I truly feel a sense of euphoria during deep meditation and sometimes even shortly after my session.

    Spiritual awakening is an amazing experience! Thanks for sharing! It really helps me on my journey and I appreciate all your help! Keep up the great work! (=
    .-= taney’s last blog .. Guiding Through Change =-.

  9. Comment by Myrko

    Myrko Reply July 27, 2009 at 4:39 pm

    Hey taney, thanks for the great comment! :)
    The level you talk about is the opening to become present. Go deeper there and leave beliefs behind, at least for the moment :)

  10. Comment by adi grant

    adi grant Reply October 8, 2009 at 9:31 pm

    I found that it is often things like unforgiveness, guilt, anger, etc that tie you to the past because your mind keeps playing those scenario’s back to you – so essentially we have to completely forgive and let go and then the present moment opens up like a flower………I also felt the complete stillness of the present moment as though the world and life seemed to be moving……it was amazing – thanks for feeding the present moment for us.

  11. Comment by Paul Birnie

    Paul Birnie Reply February 9, 2011 at 9:13 am

    Live in the now, as the now is the only thing that exists, there is no future there is no past.,only memories and probable out comes. Every moment we perceive in our life is the same moment being observed from a different view?

  12. Comment by used tires

    used tires Reply May 19, 2011 at 6:35 am

    Love that quote from Buddha! I had not heard that one, I do agree with him that we should not live in the past but I would say to also try to live for the future.

    -Jean

  13. Comment by Pati

    Pati Reply August 7, 2011 at 5:03 pm

    love your posts
    I’m trying to follow my path, doing what my deep councious is telling me, and your posts are helping me a lot.
    Beeing present is the first thing I learned years ago, and I connect it very much with the sences, when you don’ t think… just feel…, feel the air in your face, the smell of a flower, the sun in your skin… is delightful…. you can only feel in the present and it’s an easy way to start controlling your mind, to stop the mind from going from the past to the future

    pati

  14. Comment by pruthvish

    pruthvish Reply December 23, 2012 at 2:59 pm

    Hi i read your blog.. it is superb… i want to ask u something…

    i had been practicing to be in now, and from last many days i always feel that i m in present moment, very live, no thought n projection…

    so when i feel the only thing i have is now, there is no existence of next moment or future, so if there is no next than nothing can come from future, so why i can’t see all things in present moment…

    one side i feel i have everything… i don’t even feel any kind of lacking… so how can i transfer it in my reality?

    I had ask many times to many people about this… and i feel my time is going on n on… i feel i am in one trap?? Plz reply to me as soon as possible…. thank u ..

  15. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply December 23, 2012 at 3:37 pm

    @pruthvish, you have and see all things in the present moment. The present moment has a certain shape, or state. If you want to change it’s shape, the shape of what is, then you can do that in the moment. But it’s just a transformation, nothing “new” is added.

    Did that answer your question? I’m not sure if I understood it completely.

  16. Comment by pruthvish

    pruthvish Reply December 24, 2012 at 1:46 am

    Sorry i don’t get it… can u explain it in more detail??? My question is like everything is in present moment and i am connected with all …. so how can i transfer it in to my reality???

  17. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply December 29, 2012 at 10:12 am

    @pruthvish, I think you are really asking a question build on a mislead presumption:

    “why can’t I see all things in the present moment?”

    presumes that all possible states of reality are somewhere hidden in the present moment, in what is reality. Like there would be a curtain to be lifted and then you could see all other possibilities in reality. But that’s not the case of course.

    From my knowing, there is the world of things as it is – the shape of all forms in the present moment. There is just this ONE present moment. But it can take different shapes in the world of form. All other possibilities are not manifested. They are in the field of all possibilities, as Deepak Chopra put it. It’s up to you to use your mind and choose a possibility that comes to your mind and manifest it.

  18. Comment by Olaerte

    Olaerte Reply May 17, 2013 at 12:46 pm

    I have a correlated problem: is now a very and absolute lonely place? I mean, if you think we interact with others using words, messages, gestures, feelings, etc, all these forms use time to travel from one person to the other. As a consequence, we don´t share the present in our human existence. Worse than that, we can´t tell how far in time the people surrounding us are as the now may not be the same for every one.

  19. Comment by Myrko Thum

    Myrko Thum Reply May 17, 2013 at 5:03 pm

    @Olaerte, I don’t see it that way. As I see it, the Now is the same for everyone, there is only one moment which is the same for everyone. Time is a man-made concept and does only exist in our mind, but not in reality.

    When you say our communication uses time to travel, it’s not really time. If you slow this process down one could compare it to me throwing a ball over to you. You catch the ball and then have it in your hand. Before that it was in my hand. Do we still share the same Now? Of course we do.
    But the ball, in the same way as a communication-message, or even something that travels in the speed of light, moved through space and changed the state of the Now. We can measure the “time” in seconds it took from my hand to yours.

    The Now is not “lonely” it is shared by everyone. It’s the place of oneness.

  20. Comment by Diya Green

    Diya Green Reply June 25, 2013 at 10:35 am

    Nice post, I really enjoy reading all your post, am a victim of not leaving in the present, and sometimes it’s frustrating,cos u worry yourself over and over again over things in the past and things that is yet to come..making you forget to live for now..

  21. Comment by Maryam

    Maryam Reply June 9, 2014 at 8:34 am

    We should think about sth which gives us energy and keep us on track and avoid energy consuming and also it is hard for me to forget past amd i think we must able to control our thought and not let our past or plan for furture hurt us and as long as these things are not burden on us we can think about past and get some experience out of them or have plan for future we should change the way of thinking and our perespective towards matters first of the all we should think that all in this world are tools for us to have a good inner side budda says that i point my finger toward the light ,every body sticks to my finger and we forget the light And god says that i have not creat tommorrow but every body worrys about tomorrow we should do right things now and be consent of every result

    • Comment by MarbleDaemon

      MarbleDaemon Reply October 16, 2014 at 2:57 am

      You should never forget the past because the past is part of your present. You should plan for the future because it only means you plan and mindfully do what you should do in the present. However you should not regret about the past and torture yourselves with those that you can’t change anymore. You should not dream of the future without actually act in the present to achieve that future because without the present, that future is not real.

      I really appreciate the positive way of your thinking about controlling the thoughts. However, by thinking about that, you’re actually losing the awareness of your current present :)

      Thoughts are not to be controlled (if you are talking about controlling thoughts that are already created in your mind) simply because the moment you are aware of them, they already become the past. And you can’t change the past, can you? The wiser way is to be fully present and detached from the thoughts. Once you are fully aware of your thoughts, you’d certainly know how they are created (the past) and how they would end (the future). So the most important to do is what/how to do to promote / demote certain type of thoughts so that they would be created or not in the future.

  22. Pingback: Practicing Presence – like Training a Puppy | Authentic Leadership Global

  23. Comment by MarbleDaemon

    MarbleDaemon Reply October 16, 2014 at 2:01 am

    The word ‘present’ is much more powerful than ‘now’. Because you see the presence in that.

    Talking about ‘now’, we are just talking about a ‘moment’ or ‘instant’. However, ‘present’ means the ‘presence’ of everything, including ‘you’, ‘me’, ‘others’, ‘events’, ‘objects’, ‘thoughts’, ‘emotion’, ‘sense’, ‘space’ and ‘time’.

    The ‘present’ contains the ‘past’ because it’s the result of the ‘past’. The ‘present’ contains the ‘future’ because it’s the foundation of the ‘future’. Be ‘present’ means that we are aware of the ‘past’, which is the cause of our presence. Be ‘present’ also means that we are aware of the ‘future’, which is the result of our presence.

    Many people mistook the Buddha’s phrase “Do not dwell in the past, do not dream of the future, concentrate the mind on the present moment”. They think that it means they have to forget the past and the future. However, it’s not wise to do so. The phrase actually means that we should not get attached to the past nor the future because the past can’t be changed and the future is not yet to happen. In contrast, we need to realize that both the past and the future are already contained in the present and that through the present, we can see the past and achieve the future.

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