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The Present Moment... What Does it Really Mean?

"Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a gift. That's why they call it the present." - Master Oogway, Kung-fu Panda.

Can we measure this moment?

How small do we need to go?

A trillionth of a second?


In her essay 'What is the Duration of Now?' Brittany A. Gentry says:

"if phe present has a duration, it may be zero, an infinite number or {x| x > a and x < b}."

So can we imagine the present moment as a measurable unit of time? Or does it exist as something else completely outside the rules and limitations of time and space. Is it a sensation or, perhaps more eloquently, an experience that we can become connected to as we travel through our lives.

Within the yoga space, you may have heard phrases like, "be here now" or, "live in the present moment" coined by your teacher during class. But how does one truly 'be here now'? Where is 'Here' and what is 'Now'? Are they articulate and definable characteristics or circumstances that can be explored by science? Or perhaps something greater and deeper that swells from within.

Within mindfulness practice, Now is the definition given to our present account and embodied observation of our lives. Not so much a measurement of time - but more a connecting of our experiencing selves to the intricacies that create the fabric of life.

As author Myrko Thum tells it, the present moment is all there truly ever is:

“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.”

When we are truly experiencing the Now, we can live timelessly and experience embodied awareness with full aliveness. Our ability to 'be here now' relies almost entirely on our understanding of ancient mindfulness concepts that teach non-attachment to the mind, to the past and to the future in a bid to immerse the practitioner fully in the present moment.

In my experience, Now is a place that exists within the softest and calmest layers of the mind. Exploring into mindfulness can often feel like a rugged ocean, and the layers I refer to are the ones lying at the bottom of the ocean - completely still and unmoving. This place is not the elusive and magical one it is made out to be, only accessible after years spent meditating in the Himalayan mountains. With the correct tools we can access these softer and more refined places whenever we feel it would be useful.

Present living is an art that can be learned by anyone and everyone on the planet. It is our most natural and instinctual mode of being and we can return here anytime we feel drawn to restore. There are several methods to the present moment, the most common of which is through the observation of the breath. As detailed by Kelley Yokeley below:

“The path to presence is through our mind, body connection—our path is through our breath. The breath is ALWAYS the here and now, it is the ultimate present moment… Our breath is our constant connection to the here and now, and our presence is rooted in its flow.”

And so we boldly venture into the present moment, through the vehicle of the breath, to experience the truth, authenticity and full vibrancy of life that dwells so peacefully there.

Namaste x

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