Present Moment

Question of Day July 10, 2012 ~ The Present Moment

What does it mean to live in the present moment?

Three very interesting perspectives Torch, OM and Kathy, and I can align with each in their way.

Right now I am writing this, listening to Stephen Sackur on the BBC HardTalk program, and maintaining awareness of the dogs moving around the house.

I often find myself operating with multiple consciousnesses, and I am very aware that in doing so I reduce the effectiveness of each one, and often I can run 3 and most people don’t notice the other two.

There is certainly a difference in experience when all aspects are bought into one, with a single focus of attention.

There is another aspect too, which often shows up on the golf course, which is maintaining as broad a perspective on the present as possible.
There seems to be two major keys to playing golf, one of which is to practice (which I don’t do well or consistently – too many other interests) and the other is the awareness one maintains on the course.

What seems to work is to use the conscious awareness to create an image of what is desired (where the ball should go), then to hold as wide a model as possible of the course and its environs in one’s mind, relax all muscles, pre-accept emotionally whatever the outcome is about to be, then let the body (the subconscious mind, that part that makes a fork go into our mouth hundreds of thousands of times in succession without any error) do what it knows how to do without any interference from the consciousness.

When I achieve that, I play good golf.
When I try and interfere with the body – it usually doesn’t work out that well.

So this too is another aspect of being in the present – aware without trying to exert too much control, and open to whatever opportunities present themselves. Perhaps even more powerfully, looking for opportunities in whatever happens, however much it seems like a disaster.

This aspect of being present to the possibility of possibility seems to be a very powerful aspect of being present to life.

[followed by]

@OM – I think you have quite a few members for your heretics club – I am ready and willing to question anything and everything, so almost by definition that puts me in the heretic’s club – been there a long time – over 50 years.

@Brian – I love the work Jeff is doing, though I have never met him, he is finding the actual mechanisms for the systems that I have known for a long time must logically be there.
I love the way that everything about our minds is predictive in a sense, and out of phase with reality in another sense. We are never actually in the present. We can be in our predictive model of the present, or we can lag behind and be in the presence of what our senses are actually giving us, and it is logically impossible to do both at the same time – there is a significant time lag involved – almost half a second.
The mechanisms Jeff is identifying as to how we actually do that are sublimely beautiful in a sense (if one happens to be a biochemist/systems geek).

@Deb
I seem to be getting on top of my cold.
I had got really sloppy with my Vitamin C, and was down to only two doses a day.
Yesterday I restarted my little application I wrote, that every hour tells me to get up, stretch, exercise, and have some Vit C. I only missed two hours – and this morning my head is clear, though I am aware that the virus is still in my system, my body’s defences seem to have it in check. So Yesterday I had a heaped teaspoon of Vit C in a glass of water when I got up (just before having breakfast – same again this morning). Then a quarter of a level tsp, every hour (except 2 – bit slack there) during the day, then another full tsp after dinner, and kept up the 1/4tsp until I went to bed.
Also did 12 pushups and some stretches every time I had Vit C.
I think the exercise really helps.

@Mike
I’m with Buddha in a sense, and OM in another.
To me it seems important to spend some time (neither too much nor too little, and that varies with circumstance) looking for, contemplating, and learning from lessons of our past; as well as envisaging possibilities for our future; as well as being concentrated in the present and bringing the currently selected possibility into existence.
All three aspects are required, and are powerful in appropriate combination for one’s specific circumstances.

[followed by]

Hi Andrew

To me it doesn’t seem quite so clear cut as you seem to be trying to make it.
I agree with you, that there is no power in attaching oneself to either the past or the future, and one needs to have the freedom to move ones awareness whereever seems most appropriate.

There is no point in worrying, and there can be a great deal of power in being prepared.
When flying cross country in small single engined aircraft, one is trained to keep one’s awareness open to possibilities, to always be aware of what the wind is doing on the ground, as well as at the altitude you are flying at, to always be looking for potential landing sites in case of engine failure, to be scanning the instruments, to keep a lookout for other aircraft, and to take in the scenery and enjoy the experience. All of these things need to be kept in balance. Then there is the reason you are flying in the first place, which is usually to get to some distant place by some time, for some purpose (for me, mostly some fishing company with a computer problem in some remote port).

So in all of that is a balance of the three factors:
lessons learned from the past (experience and contemplation);
being in the present (actually flying and keeping lookout);
and contemplation of future (choice of destination and reasons for doing so).

All three are necessary.
There are multiple pathologies possible (multiple dangers) if one puts too much emphasis on any one aspect – and what is too much seems to very much depend on the context.

[followed by]

Hi Andrew

Yep – with that clarification – I think we are aligned.

Certainly, the more practice we have, the more we can take from conscious control, and pass over to subconscious control, the more freedom we have for the conscious to do it’s thing in the present (or as close to present as it can get).

And it is amazing how much better we do stuff when we are not consciously trying to control it.

In flying, one of my instructors (John Parker) once said – anytime the aircraft gets someplace that your mind wasn’t at least 90 seconds earlier, you are in trouble.

When I really took that on, and started flying with my conscious mind planning always at least 90 seconds out front, and leaving the subconscious to take care of everything else, I started to fly really smoothly. Won the regional inter-club precision flying contest that year.

Notice the same sort of thing on the golf course.

I play really good golf when my conscious mind is not trying to control any aspect of my swing, but is rather focussed on exactly where the ball needs to end up, and the subconscious takes care of everything else.

Similarly in programming and business, and life in general.

Build the skill sets.

Practice, practice, practice.

Then stay open to possibility.

About Ted Howard NZ

Seems like I might be a cancer survivor. Thinking about the systemic incentives within the world we find ourselves in, and how we might adjust them to provide an environment that supports everyone (no exceptions) - see www.tedhowardnz.com/money
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