A big part of my Zen training is learning to live in the moment.
Sometimes, the present can be pleasurable. If you’re eating a bowl of ice cream and someone tells you to be “in the moment,” you probably won’t have to fight very hard to get there.
Other times, the present is painful to one degree or another.
For instance, right now I don’t want to write a blog post. I don’t know why. Laziness, petulance, sheer human nature – whatever you want to call it. I feel like doing anything else.
Doing what you don’t want to do causes pain. Sometimes mild (like now), sometimes severe. In these cases, being in the moment is about confronting that pain head-on.
You don’t grit your teeth and force yourself to fight the pain. Rather, you take a deep breath, and you feel the pain as deeply as you can.
This isn’t masochism.
See, it turns out that when you feel your own pain deeply, it begins to heal. When you step into pain, you come one step closer to walking out the other side.
And what’s on the other side?
It’s not that simple, of course – nothing is. Sometimes the pain comes back over and over, and sometimes you just can’t stay in the moment. You look for escape. You cry, you scream, you rage. You say, to hell with Buddha and the whole deal.
But even then, it’s possible to come back to the moment, to live in a state of gentle awareness. Maybe not easy, but possible.
I’ve struggled a lot lately with being in the moment, but I think my practice is slowly improving.
Embrace the pleasure. Embrace the pain.
See? I feel better already.