Being present offers various rewards. In one of the research studies published* few years back, it was indicated that participants who remained present even when they were stuck in uncomfortable situations were likely to be happier than those who chose to avoid the situation by day-dreaming about the alternatives. In some sense, reality and our courage to embrace it have psychological benefits.
One easier way to ‘be present’ is by becoming aware of the breath. It is always there, moment after moment. In another research study, it was estimated that the length of the “present moment” is equivalent to the length of a ‘half breath’. In that case, being aware of ‘half breath’ is an excellent way to come back to present moment.
Breathing in, we are aware of it.
Breathing out, we are aware of it.
Nothing more and nothing less.
Just noticing the coming and the going of the breath through body moment after moment without any expectations can be a great way to cultivate present-mindedness.
This approach not only allows us a respite from the burden of past and future but also opens our hearts to the richness that may be available to us in any given moment. For few moments, we stop struggling to be in a certain way or feel a certain way and simply rest in the present moment.
It is our ability to let go, even for few moments, off the struggling which makes meditation a potentially powerful intervention for initiating changes in long-held emotional and behavior patterns. It is through these changes that we come to experience deep-seated peace and happiness.
*Killingworth, M & Gilbert, D. (2010). A wandering mind is an unhappy mind. Science. 2010 Nov 12;330 (6006):932. doi: 10.1126/science.1192439.
Parmjit Singh, PhD