Friday, August 04, 2006

An appropriate balance

It's important, in the meditative tradition, that we avoid indulging in black and white thinking. That kind of either/or mentality trips us up and leads to an unhealthy dualism. The reason I bring this up is because some people think that the encouragement to live "in the moment" means we should never remember the past or plan for the future. Not at all. Here's a little essay on being in the moment that expresses an appropriate balance:
Each moment of our lives is imbued with richness and magic. The passage from one second to the next is a miracle in its own right and worthy of being savored. Yet our minds tend to wander away from the present, preferring the unchangeable nature of the past or the nebulous character of the future. There is nothing inherently wrong with revisiting our personal histories or dreaming about what we hope will occur with the passage of time. To live a truly balanced life is to simultaneously embody a past, present, and future self. It is only when our ability to exist purely in the moment is lost and the joys immediately in front of us are overshadowed by the joys of the past and future that we must reestablish our connection to the present. Living in the moment empowers you to discover and appreciate what is beautiful about this unique moment in time.
Grounding yourself in the present is simply a matter of practice. Breathing and moving consciously increases your awareness of how you occupy space from moment to moment. Focusing on life's little joys and relishing everything you do will help you learn to focus wholeheartedly on the task at hand. Living in the moment means immersing yourself fully in every experience, whether positive or negative. As you learn to embrace the present in an all-encompassing way, you will come to realize that life's magnificence is a product of its moments.
Sometimes it's very important to remember the past in order to understand the present and to reflect skillfully on what is happening right now. It's important, however, not to get caught up in the past in a judging way - that is, either idealizing the past or living in regret or resentment.

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