Many of us are familiar with training our bodies. We go to the gym and do yoga to sweat and to look good. When it comes to training the mind, we understand it as learning something new. We could teach the mind to pick up new skills for a career change. Or to teach the mind to learn a hobby to kill time. Most recently, techniques such as meditation have gained traction. Meditation teaches the mind to stay in the present. Here are 3 reasons why you should train your mind so that it stays in the present moment.
1. Wandering Mind Causes Negativity
Two researchers from Harvard University used an iPhone Web App to gather 250,000 data points on their subjects’ thoughts, feelings, and actions in their daily lives. The study subjects could choose from 22 general activities from walking, exercising, shopping, and watching television. The iPhone app contacted 2,250 volunteers at random intervals to ask how happy they were, what they were doing, what they were thinking, and if their current activity felt pleasant, neutral, or unpleasant.
Matthew A. Killingsworth, one of the researchers found that respondents’ minds were wandering 46.9% of the time, no less than 30% during every activity except making love. Killingsworth added, “Mind-wandering appears ubiquitous across all activities. This study shows that our mental lives are pervaded to a remarkable degree, by non-present.”
While mind-wandering may seem harmless to us, the research found that it is the cause of much of our unhappiness, rather than an effect. They added that there is a reason ancient philosophical and religious traditions train the mind to stay in the present moment because it leads to happiness.
2. The Present Moment is Reality
Most of us believe in the stories spin by our minds. We make stories and are very good at it. Look at the advertisements, social media influencers, and the endless movies and dramas churned out by the human mind. Observe deeply how our conflict comes about – because there is no agreement in the stories churned out by each side.
According to Harvard University research, the mind likes to wander to the past and the future. However, whatever is the past has gone. Making up stories about it is just muddling what is. The future is something we imagine and it may not even come true. In fact, what you visualize about your future will not present itself 100% as projected in your mind. Your destination may not look like what you have planned out.
The only reality is the present moment. Elisabeth Kubler-Ross, a Swiss-American psychologist who interviewed people near death, found that what most dying people regretted not having really lived. Living is being with every present moment. Giving in to the moment with our present attention to whoever we are with and whatever we are doing.
3. There is No Fear or Anxiety in the Present Moment
The final reason to train your mind to stay in the present is that the present moment does not contain fear or anxieties. Fear and anxieties are created by our anticipation of what is going to happen in the future. If you think about it, all of our future ends in death. That is not a very happy prospect, right? Thus we busy ourselves with new tasks, and hobbies to distract from death. But by adding so many things to do on our plate, we also miss out on the happiness that can be felt by living in the present moment. Since our minds wander while doing activities, except for making love.
Although we do not need to think so much about death that it causes depression, it is useful to contemplate it. Being mindful about death makes each breath in the present more alive. If there is no death, how can we appreciate life? Death helps us be grateful for each breath, while each breath in the present moment brings happiness.
So, maybe we have been living our lives with a lot of misconceptions. Avoiding death, we do things in fear and in busyness so we can forget. But the opposite is instead true. Facing death, we become grateful and live in the present moment.
Mindfulness is a technique we can learn to keep our mind in the present moment amidst activities. Get in touch with us if you are keen on learning mindfulness.