Don’t Try To Run Away From The Present Moment

Enjoying the Pai Canyon in Northern Thailand.

If I only had money I would travel, if I only had a talent I would create, if I only knew the right people, if I only…

I am still in search of the true purpose of my life but I am refusing the idea of sitting still, doing nothing (unless I meditate) and waiting for the right thing to happen. No matter where I am I try to use everything I have, connect with people, create, improve myself by meditating, reading, writing, listening, designing, planning and visualising.

Constant dissatisfaction

After taking a 10-day Vipassana meditation course, studying Buddha teachings and reading about mindfulness I came to a conclusion that I was always trying to escape the present moment.

Meditating for nearly two years I improved my self-awareness and caught myself thinking about the past over and over again. I wondered what could have been said, done, built, written, read, loved… As a result, all the negative emotions like regret, guilt, anxiety arose. I felt down and constantly dissatisfied.

When I wasn’t obsessed with the past, I worried about the future, about all the worst case scenarios that could happen to me, my family and friends. I worried about my health, business and many more things humans worry about.

Running away from the present moment is impossible and won’t solve your problems, the only way to solve these problems is to embrace the present moment and accept whatever happens. “You need to find inner peace with yourself and stop running from problems,” said my meditation teacher, “no matter where you go, Europe, Africa, Asia or anywhere else, your problems will follow.”

The cure

Simply identify what makes you sad, angry, stressful, painful, fearful and accept it. After you accept it you will feel an instant relief. Once you welcome the world the way it is you stop suffering.

If you keep changing jobs, feeling sad for no reason, your relationships are ending the same way keeping you broken hearted don’t blame other people, it’s all within you.

“Everyone is trying to find the right person, but nobody is trying to be the right person.” — Unknown

Review your habits. Recall how you treat people not only externally like listening, talking, hugging, smiling but what you do internally. Do you care about them? Do you have negative thoughts that are never told? Do you have secret wishes you never share?

Practice mindfulness

Stop running from your problems and the present moment. Become more mindful of the thing you do right now. An easy hack to do something mindfully is to do it slowly and bring your awareness to it. If you’re having a cup of coffee now, repeat to yourself “I am drinking, drinking, drinking”, this little hack I learned from the Thai monk will help you to become more aware.

Studies show that about 40 percent of people’s daily activities are based on habits, meaning they are performed automatically, in other words, you are not aware of what you are doing for 10 hours a day. To break the habit of worrying about the past or the future take a small step at a time and accept the present moment. Adopt the hack I mentioned to become more mindful and don’t overthink how much time it will take to get rid of the bad habit.

Just breathe

The past is over and the future is just a thought in your head. You are never fully here because you are always busy trying to get elsewhere.

I often catch myself waiting for a trip. I keep thinking about it, I imagine all the things I’ll do. Once I get to my destination I keep staring at my smartphone and talking to people I left at home. My body is in a new place but my thoughts are stuck at home.

Once I get back home, I start reminiscing the trip, I have regrets of not experiencing it fully. I have been there, done that and I keep doing it. But understanding what is wrong with it helps me to improve and put my phone aside and immerse myself in the present moment. Whether it’s seeing a mountain or a scenic ocean view, breathing slowly and telling myself, “Tomas, now you see this ocean, you feel the breeze, the chill, the power of mother nature, you feel the connection with the earth, you breathe in, breathe out, breathe in, breathe out”.

Focus on the present. Force yourself to come back from wandering in your thoughts about the past and the future and focus on the thing in front of you happening right now.

Don’t try to run away from the present moment.


Originally published at tomaslau.com on March 24, 2016.