HOW TO BE MINDFUL OF THE PRESENT — a Traffic Light Analogy

One of the most basic of Buddhist meditative practices speaks about being present in the moment.  Mindfulness is another term for being aware of what we are doing, thinking, feeling at the present time.

The present moment is a time of peace and healing.  If we attend to our breath we can actually find it relaxing and fascinating.  We can observe the chaotic thoughts and feelings that accompany the workings of our minds with detached witnessing. Many find it truly healing.

It takes only a moment of attempting this type of meditation to realize how difficult it is.  Our minds are continuously jumping from past to future.  Reliving past failures, insults, injustices, mistakes produce suffering in the present.  Likewise worrying about future events produces suffering right now!

So clearly spending time in the present makes sense.  Yet realistically, we cannot avoid the past or the future.  We can definitely learn and grow from past mistakes.  Its really the only way to regard them as learning opportunities for healing and growth rather than time wasted.

Likewise, without planning, our life may drift aimlessly.  We need to think about future in order to grow and evolve as well.

The problem is that we find ourselves habitually in obsessive pre-occupation with the past and the future.

So how do we resolve seemingly contradictory desires–remain in the present moment while respecting the past and planning for the future.

Perhaps a clumsy analogy will help.  Think about traffic lights.  We travel mindlessly through the green light but will ultimately come to a yellow and then red one.  We accept what we cannot change.  We need to stop.  There is no option.

In that moment of red we can address the present.  We can step out of the chaos of time and become aware.  We need to make a place for the red lights.  We need to program them in somehow.  If we don't they will absolutely not happen and we will continue to speed through life without being present.

So think about taking time out of our usual multi-tasking frenetic minds.  Seek to establish a "red light" time or times. 

It may be the only way for it to happen and we certainly need it.


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