We often hear and read about good advice, that we should live in the present.
'The future is yet to be and we should not be anxious about what might or might not be. The past is history and cannot be changed, so point in regretting about it etc. Remain in the present to live fully.'
Excellent advice, but how does one remain in the present?
First, who or what is it that is living in the past or the present? It is our mind that constantly travels forward and back in time, visiting the future and revisiting the past.
To remain in the present means to focus the mind on the present. Sounds simple but difficult for most of us to implement.
Fortunately Indian sages and then Zen Buddhism over thousands of years have taught humanity a simple but beautiful technique. That of observing one's breath. Our breath, because it is integral to our very existence and it happens on its own accord.
Sitting comfortably we close our eyes and observe the breath. We observe the exhalation and then the inhalation. Trying not to think, or analyse what has happened nor fantasising about what might happen.
At first our mind will wander back and forth in time, here and there etc. The simple but effective technique is we return our focus back to the breath as it occurs. We will soon discover over time that we become focussed on that one factor of the breath. This will make us calmer as we discover over a relatively short time that our focus returning to the present. We live in the here and now.
By and by as we practice we become more careful and observant of our breath, we will discover that all else but the breath disappears. Gradually we will discover that even the breath appears to have disappeared.
The breath does not stop, we just transition beyond it initially for a moment. But with practice we become more disciplined, more adept at it, we experience a state of nothingness. This is meditation.
The present is the only reality.