“Mindfulness practice means that we commit fully in each moment to be present; inviting ourselves to interface with this moment in full awareness, with the intention to embody as best we can an orientation of calmness, mindfulness, and equanimity right here and right now.” ~ John Kabat-Zinn
I love the above quote from John Kabat-Zinn, especially because he uses the word, commit, very intentionally. Commit has a Latin origin, meaning to join, combine; to bring together. The more modern definition of commit is to carry out, pledge, bind, or devote. It also refers to the state or quality of being dedicated to a cause, activity, or undertaking.
Reflecting on how commitment applies to the present moment really shifted the way I thought about being present. Think about joining and binding, bringing you together with the here & now — combining into one totality of experience — that this is all there is and this is where it’s at…where life happens.
I often think how esoteric this may seem due to the mundane and everydayness of life. We tend to not connect with the present moment and miracles happening day-to-day. It’s really not something we think about as days of our lives go by. I believe that many of us live the majority of our lives lost in our thoughts without even realizing it. I go more into depth about this in a previous article, “Why You Should Think About Your Death.”
I believe that we all have different degrees of FoMO (Fear of Missing Out) when it comes to staying in the present moment. FoMO is usually associated with social media, but I think it really maps onto the present moment as well. We all tend to get pulled into the past or future, perhaps being afraid we might forget something we’ll have to do later. This constant thinking about what we will do later disconnects us with right now. Sometimes the present moment is unpleasant or uncomfortable, and it becomes even more difficult to stay there. The end result is not being fully present in the here and now.
That should be the real FoMO.
At times, I believe we tend to live our lives in this way — as if we’re in a movie — or more like we’re spectators watching a movie.
I recently recall being in my car, almost in a hypnotic-like trance, driving out of town to get my computer fixed. I had my mind on a lot of things. Worried that I needed my computer for presentations the next day, what I was going to do, how I needed to hurry back for another meeting after dropping off my computer, etc. It became obvious to me that I wasn’t present.
I thought about how I always hear “be in the moment, be present,” …but how do you do that? I know about different ways that seem to work for people — mindful breathing, body scanning, etc. So I thought about it and thought, well, what if we say, enter this moment right now? You are right here. Commit to it.
I immediately felt different…Something changed in me, and I started to feel the steering wheel. I started to feel the air on my face. I started to smell the scents. I felt as if I had woken up, and have entered the moment. I think living in that space can be difficult, but there are ways to bring ourselves back.
When I thought about it in terms of a movie, for me, that seemed to work more than just thinking “be present.” Enter this moment and commit to it. Accept it.
I had shifted from spectator to experiencer.
Being in the present moment really requires a commitment, forgoing all other things to be right here, right now. Being present is also a sacrifice, because it requires a letting go, a surrendering of the past and future worries.
We then can realize that we can choose to be present, with intention — especially if you want to stay there a while. It’s not enough to make the choice, because we then have to decide whether or not to commit to that choice — to carry out our pledge and devotion.
Any choice is like this. Choosing a relationship, whether or not to start a family, choosing solitude, going to school, not going to school, etc.
The significance of this comes in whether or not you commit to that choice and make meaning of it.
“Life can only be found in the present moment.” ~ Thich Nhat Hahn