Meet Jack. Jack is my 16 month old mini-Siberian Husky. When he wakes up in the morning the last thing on his mind is what he did yesterday or what might happen tomorrow. He wakes up in the present moment and pretty much spends his whole day there. He lives for today. But, that doesn’t mean he doesn’t plan for tomorrow – he did after all hide his bone last night.
There is a tendency amongst many meditators to hold the ‘present moment’ up as if that is the only valid place to be. What a lot of bull.
If you want to experience a visceral wave of fear about living in the present moment all the time then please consider the experience of Alzheimer’s. Without memories there is no basis for judging, analyzing, comparing, evaluating, or learning from one’s past experiences … It’s a current moment nightmare for severe sufferers. Trapped in the present moment they experience torment trying to recall things. Why is it so important to them to recall the past, if living in the present moment is thought to be so wonderful ?
As a human, you need to practice the skill of ‘judging’ almost all the time. What will happen if I meditate too long and miss my job interview? Will I die if I take the next step (next to a cliff)? Will I die if I eat this thing I found on the ground? What will my child eat if I live on if I don’t plan for my future?
There are times for action, times for planning, times for lazing, times for checking out and times for checking in. Being fully present is great when you are lying on beach thinking about whether you want another swim. It’s great during sex. I am sure your partner wants you to be present when you are having a conversation.
However, I also know people who don’t know how to enjoy anything. Their lives are full of bucket lists – things they have pre-determined to have huge meaning for them. Often they are so involved in the symbolism of the thing they are doing – making sure they have the good selfie – as opposed to being fully immersed in the experience. It’s one of the reasons that when I am on vacation, I only carry a camera on some days. I go on vacation for fun and joy and peace and rest and new experiences. Too much planning and judging and some of that spontaneous serendipitous experience will never occur. More than that, if all your moments are carefully planned then you will be too busy working the plan to notice why you made the plan in the first place.
The ‘Present Moment’ is a great and valid place to be. It’s an essential place to be at times, but its a terrible place for a human to be all the time. Meditation is a skill and a tool. Reconsider adopting a whole new lifestyle or set of values and faddy beliefs to use it.
You can meditate for 10 minutes. You should not meditate for 10 hours.