The Present Moment is Anything but Ordinary

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Most people assume that meditation is all about stopping thoughts, getting rid of emotions, somehow controlling the mind. But actually it's about stepping back, seeing the thought clearly, witnessing it coming and going — without judgment, but with a relaxed, focus mind. - Andy Puddicombe

We live in an incredibly busy world. Many of us through the day at a frantic pace, our minds constantly busy with one thing or another. The fact is that we’re so distracted that we are no longer present and, despite efforts to be slow down, we often miss out on the things that are most important to us. Sadly, people assume that this is just how things are these days. But I don't believe it is how it has to be, and either does Andy.

Andy Puddicombe is a prolific speaker on mindfulness. He believes that what mindfulness meditation ultimately boils down to is taking a break not just from work but from our mind, "which so full of anxieties about the world and anxieties about its own anxieties."  In his Ted Talk "All it Takes is Ten Mindful Minutes", Andy challenges listeners to recall a time when they did a absolutely nothing for just ten minutes. Ten minutes free from emailing, texting, Internet, TV, chatting, eating, reading, even sitting there reminiscing about the past or planning for the future. Simply doing nothing. 

Andy points out that the present moment is underrated: It sounds so ordinary, and yet we spend so little time in the present moment that it's anything but ordinary.

There was a Harvard research paper that said on average our minds are lost in thought almost 47 percent of the time. Forty-seven percent. At the same time, this sort of constant mind-wandering is also a direct cause of unhappiness.

The beauty of mindfulness is that even though it only takes a few minutes a day, it impacts our entire life. We just need to know how to do it; an exercise and framework to learn how to be more mindful. That's essentially what meditation is. It familiarizes ourselves with the present moment. But we also need to know how to approach it in the right way to get the best from it.

What usually happens when we're learning to be mindful is that we get distracted by a thought. Being distracted during meditation is a very common experience, a part of the learning process. Expect some frustration and then see how to cope with it rather than trying to run away from it. Meditation isn’t about getting a certain experience but about experiencing whatever is happening right now.

Blissful experiences come and go. Painful experiences come and go. You just keep watching without holding on to either. The practice itself does the rest.

As Andy puts it:

We can't change every little thing that happens to us in life, but we can change the way that we experience it. That's the potential of meditation, of mindfulness. You don't have to burn any incense, and you definitely don't have to sit on the floor. All you need to do is to take ten minutes out a day to step back, to familiarize yourself with the present moment so that you get to experience a greater sense of focus, calm and clarity in your life.

 

Sachi Doctor

Elemental Alchemy, 90 Rio Vista Avenue, Oakland, CA, 94611

Sachi Doctor is an Ayurvedic practitioner and holistic health coach who founded Elemental Alchemy with the mission to provide a resource for those navigating their way towards optimal mind-body health.

Diagnosed with an autoimmune disease at a young age, Sachi has spent over twenty years exploring different health modalities, treatment plans, diets and mindfulness practices to help alleviate chronic pain and restore balance.

After years of looking to others for a model of health with no relief, Sachi realized that the answers she sought were not hidden in someone else’s prescription for wellness but unique to her, and that the first step towards discovery was actually tuning out what was right for others and tuning into herself.

As she tapped into the wisdom of her own body, she discovered that the elements foundational for health  — the blueprint she so fervently sought — was within her, within each of us. Since then Sachi has been passionate about helping others also cultivate clarity and inner wisdom for vibrant health.

In addition to her Ayurvedic and nutrition education, Sachi has completed over 800 hours of yoga teacher training and continues to study with her mother, her first yoga teacher, for whom these practices are a way of life.

Sachi is a board member of the Prison Yoga Project at San Quentin State Prison and serves as an ambassador for Yoga Gives Back, a non-profit that raises funds within the US yoga community to support microcredit programs for women in India. She holds a Msc in Development from the London School of Economics.