I find it curious how difficult it is to be, become and stay present in the present moment. Even more so to be present to the Presence who is himself present to us in the present moment. But what is it about presence that sounds so deeply attractive and enriching yet feels so elusive in practice?
My mind is so easily preoccupied with what has happened in the past, or what I anticipate happening in the future, that simply being in the here and now takes real effort and concentration. It seems paradoxical to me. After all, I am in the present moment and yet nevertheless find it so hard to be here.
Buddhists describe the discipline of being present in the here and now as mindfulness, the art of being and becoming aware. It draws attention to the senses - what am I seeing, hearing, touching, feeling, smelling, tasting, doing. It's about what is going on within and around me, now; noticing the unnoticed.
A close friend gave me a gift, a book called Nowhere. The title itself reveals a mystery, since what appears to be a negation at first glance is also the words 'Now...here'. In gestalt, it's a phenomenon known as 'figure' (what emerges and captures our attention) and 'ground' (what lies unnoticed behind).
By becoming focused or fixated on one aspect of my experience to the exclusion of others, I lose the ability to notice what else is happening in the same space and time. This selective ability enables attention and concentration but I wonder how much it filters out that could be of true or deeper value.
So, what am I not noticing? What am I not paying attention to that could bring fresh insight or broaden perspective and experience? What am I not saying or doing that could deepen my relationship with or value to others? Who or what am I pushing into background that should really feature as foreground?
Nick Wright is a coach and consultant, specialising in reflective practice.