A Glimpse of the Present Moment
I've been working with the exercises in a slender book called Present Moment Awareness. It offers awareness practice without the terms or trappings of Buddhism... simple and clear without reference to any particular religion. I tend to practice in a Buddhist context with reliance on the Three Jewels—Buddha, Dharma and Sangha. This is my personal choice. I do fully acknowledge that practicing in the Buddhist framework is not a prerequisite for awareness practice.
Today I'd like to share the first exercise in the book—A Glimpse of the Present Moment. It begins on Page 4:
When we are present in the moment, we are not thinking about our environment. We are simply experiencing it. The goal is to observe without judgment, analysis or thought.
Take some time to notice what you are experiencing in this moment. To do this you shoul dpay attention to all your senses. What is the temperature? How bright is the lighting? Are your hands cold? Feet warm? What do you smell? Do you notice random thoughts floating through your mind? Are you feeling any specific emotions? Are you relaxed or tense? How does it feel to be supported by your chair? How does this book feel in your hands? What sounds do you hear?
For example, if your cat's litter box is a little rank, don't consume yourself with thoughts of changing it. Simply experience the smell "as it is," and allow any thought of changing the litter to float by. Notice how you can be aware of something, such as a stinky litter box, without having to conduct a mental dialog about it. You can be aware of what needs to be done without having to think about it. This excess thinking is mental static, a noise in your mind that distracts you from the reality of the present moment.
...take this opportunity to glimpse the present moment.
Sometimes I rush to the cushion trying to fit meditation into my day amidst the myriad other things there are to do. When I have this mindset, I'm more focused on "getting it done" than I am on developing concentration. In this hurried state, I find that I don't take the time I need to settle into a workable posture. I am agitated. I am ready for the sitting to be over before it begins. This evening before I sit, I will do this simple awareness practice. I will sit long enough to be able to examine every sensation... every sight, sound, taste, and touch... then I will start my timer for meditation.
It is another "school night" and I have plenty to do around the house... but approaching meditation in a rushed state feeling a bit resentful about the fact that it takes me away from other things that also need to be done is not a productive way to approach practice... So I'm going to give myself just enough time to enter into it with full awareness, acknowledging that this little bit of time for myself is just as important as the floor that needs moping or the laundry that is waiting for attention.