by Michael Mongno
Meditation and mindfulness are now in the current zeitgeist, and for good reason. We have heard of all their benefits, from relieving stress and promoting relaxation to more focused concentration and greater self-awareness. It’s so easy to get caught up in daily activities that propel us into the future that it’s hard to pause and savor this present moment. So what does being in the present moment feel like?
I had an experience recently that brought the idea home. I was sitting outside and happened to see a small rabbit hopping along. It stopped not too far from me, and so I kept still to see what might happen.
The bunny, too, remained motionless, and we sat together for a good many minutes. I wondered what he was doing, and where he might be going, and what his goals for the day might be. Then I remembered that animals don’t actually have any concept of time, and that they don’t have actual goals (other than survival), and that there is no place they’d rather be than where they are. And where they are is right smack-dab in the present moment.
As I sat with the bunny in stillness, simply being with myself and him or her, time seemed to slow down, and I was content in this “being with.”I really got that being in the present moment means that any concept of future doesn’t exist at all, that there is nothing more than this moment, and then this moment, and then the next.
It felt so freeing, not having to know what’s next, because “what’s next” doesn’t really exist—only “what’s now.”
After what seemed like quite a while, but was probably not more than half a dozen minutes (time seems so spacious when it disappears!), the rabbit slowly ambled away after communing with me (my projection, of course) and went about doing what rabbits do from moment to moment.
As for me, I appreciated being with another creature whose mere presence stopped my monkey mind from lurching from one thought to the next in whirly-burly fashion, with no real aim and no real way to stop itself.
This, to me, is the purpose of meditation, which is to slow down our thoughts (it’s impossible to get rid of them completely) so that we can experience the space between them long enough to feel the peace and contentment that this transcendence allows. From this place, we have a better chance at creating our next moments with greater consciousness and awareness.
Michael Mongno, Ph.D., offers present-centered therapies to help individuals and couples communicate better, heal more quickly and achieve a better quality of life. He is available for appointments either in-person, by phone or via Skype. For more information, contact him at 212-799-0101 or visit PresentCenteredTherapies.com.