September 29th, 2008

How to Stop Your Thoughts from Stealing the Present Moment

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Warning: Do! try this at home
All we have is the present moment. Too often, we let our thoughts steal the present by thinking about the past or future:

As it is, I would say about 80 to 90 percent of most people’s thinking is not only repetitive and useless, but because of its dysfunctional and often negative nature, much of it is also harmful. Observe your mind and you will find this to be true. It causes a serious leakage of vital energy.

-Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now

Reflect on the most enjoyable moment of your life. Did this moment involve thinking, or were you completely focused on an activity? Chances are, you were completely focused on an activity. When you become intensely conscious of the present moment, you create a gap in thinking, in which you are highly alert and aware. Those who have meditated have experienced this enjoyable state of consciousness.

There is no off switch for your mind

Our minds are always running automatically, and we are addicted to thinking. So how can we experience this more enjoyable state of consciousness more often, in which we are truly living in the moment? To do this, we must give our normal daily activities the fullest attention, so that they become an end in themselves.

For example, yesterday I was shining my shoes, which is typically a mundane activity for me. But this time, I purposefully focused my attention completely on the activity, ensuring I didn’t miss a single spot and applying the right amount of shoe shine. To my surprise, the activity became highly enjoyable. It had become an end in itself, while in the past, it had been a means to an end.

Stopping your thoughts from stealing the present moment

Your past and future have no reality- your only reality is the present. As you focus on the past or future, your present moment becomes stolen. The more you focus in the present, the more alive and conscious you become.

When you are walking through your house or place of work, notice every step you make, every movement, and your breathing. Focus completely on the activity without thinking. Do this for all of your daily activities. You will begin to feel a level of inner peace that you had never felt before.

Negative emotions come from thinking too much about the past or future

Fear, stress and worry come from too much focus on the future. Guilt, sadness and regret come from too much focus on the past. When your focus is on the present, you free yourself from these negative emotions.

Three tips for living in the present

1)      Focus on your daily activities as an end in themselves, without thinking about the past or future

2)       Do not judge yourself when you drift between living in the present and the past or future. Do become aware of the times when you are not focused on the present

3)       Continue practicing and choosing to focus your consciousness in the present. You will become better at this, until focus on the present moment becomes your predominate state

Creative Commons License photo credit: stop.down

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3 Responses to “How to Stop Your Thoughts from Stealing the Present Moment”


October 27th, 2008 - 8:54 pm

Yes, we all tend to focus on either the past or present instead of the now. I think it’s a good idea to make places and objects neutral, meaning don’t let them bring up old memories, especially if these are negative memories.


October 30th, 2008 - 1:21 pm

You haven’t posted in a while. What’s up?

Zena Weist

November 8th, 2008 - 7:08 pm

Great reminder and tips! Very timely for me…This afternoon I was eating lunch as my husband was working on his laptop. I was asking him to check a company out for me on Hoovers. He told me to enjoy my lunch and quit multi-tasking. I definitely was not living in the moment. I was juggling all sorts of stuff in my mind and not thinking about the amazing homemade chicken noodle soup in front of me nor the four kids chomping down their lunches surrounding me. I took pause and enjoyed the moment.

Found your post through @kriscolvin.

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