Friday, June 14, 2013

The non eternal now

If you google "How to be in the moment," in less than 2 seconds, 1,190,000,000 results will appear. Wiki-how: How to Live in the Moment: Seven Steps. The Art of Now: 6 steps to living in the moment, from Psychology Today. There are five Buddhist inspirations for being in the moment. One of my favorites is this Huff Post link: How to "Be" in the Moment. Why the quotes? I didn't click through.

Googling "improve memory" only turned up 232,000,000 results. Both "setting intention" and "goal setting" only brought up a measly 50,000,000 results each.

My conclusion is that either it's more difficult to be in the moment than remembering and planning, or that at this time in history, it's more interesting. Or both.

Mindfulness practice (different than being or living in the moment) is an important, evolutionary behavior for so many reasons. I could go on and on. In fact I did, in this post from last year.

But we can not always be mindful. We can not always live in the moment. It's actually not good for us to believe we should. There's a lot of chatter out there that makes it seem like it might be possible, and is important, to live only in the present moment - an idea that rankles the likes of me.

Memory is crucial. Ask anyone with memory impairment if you doubt its importance. Can you imagine starting fresh every single moment? Every morning you would need to re-learn how to brush your teeth. You would have to experiment with your coffee to see if you like it black, or with sugar or milk.

I exaggerate of course, but I'm serious. Memory is history. Those who do not learn from history are bound to repeat the same mistakes, right? Yeah. Memory is also healing and a part of our creative expression, hence beneficial to spiritual and emotional health. Without memory there is no story telling. We would be unable to remember our beloved dead. It would be awful. We wouldn't even be human without memory.

Likewise, the capacity to plan, set intentions and look to the future is not only crucial, but healthful. Hope would be completely inaccessible if we didn't try to divine the future. Visualizing possible futures stretches the imagination, opens a space for inspiration. Without an imagined future, life would be pretty depressing, don't you think? Good lord.

I dislike the phrase and idea of being in the moment. I prefer the term mindfulness. I practice mindfulness every day formally when I sit to meditate, also when I'm working. (I can't let my mind wander when I'm working on a client's body. I have to pay attention.)

When I'm not working or meditating, I often let my mind wander far and wide, backwards and forwards in time, into alternate realities and wild imaginings. This is a part of my humanity and therefore beneficial to my health. The mindfulness practice is important. It helps me remember to return from my flights of fancy when it's time to do the laundry or cook dinner.

Go ahead - daydream. Just not while driving please. And remember your life's stories richly, please! You must also meditate, if you want to help humanity evolve. But meditation is just part of what we do, part of how we think. Important, but not the end-all be-all in terms of being a healthy human being. Yes? I say yes.

Seize aujourd'hui, hier et demain. Shalom.


The Bug said...

According to the Myers-Briggs indicator I'm a "present-moment person" - and this is really true in so many ways. Will I think far ahead enough to consider taking an umbrella? Probably not. Can I remember how I felt about something last year so I can use that knowledge now? Maybe.

An example that is kind of simple, but very annoying to me, is remembering whether I liked something I got at a restaurant. I look at the menu & think, "that looks good! But wait, did I try that before? What did I think? Oh well, I'll just have to eat it again." I'm seriously thinking of keeping a dining out journal. Sheesh!

Kerry said...

I wish my memory worked better than it does, but it's something that one can work on, as you say, by thinking back regularly. Yeah, I need to do that more often.