Ignoring the things you are consciously thinking of at the moment, can you hear that very low volume, constant noise going on in the background of your mind?
Our minds work at the speed of a zillion thoughts per second. Even if you are not consciously thinking of something, there is always that buzzing in your head like a swarm of bees. Sometimes you can make out what they are, but sometimes they are just… ‘noise’. Like background noise. Your mind just never seems to be perfectly silent.
We’re very used to our minds being ‘busy’ all the time that we never really know what it feels like for our minds to be quiet. I know I wouldn’t have realised it if I hadn’t seen it myself: no buzzing, nothing – just complete silence.
I don’t mean consciously-not-thinking-of-anything kind of silence. Not the I-am-meditating-by-focusing-on-my-breathing kind of silence, either. I mean a true silence where that constant buzzing noise is also gone!
And I can tell you, that silence truly is a blessing!
The Deafening Silence
Let me try to explain how it feels by giving you an example. Go ahead and try to feel as you read through.
Imagine you’re in a very busy city full of loud noises of the cars, constructions, humans, constant buzzing noise of the city… It’s getting on your nerves and you just want to go somewhere quieter. So, you decide to get out of the city and go to the countryside, away from all that noise.
You are now outside the city and the only thing you can hear is the distant, low volume buzzing of the city. You are standing at the edge of a peaceful-looking forest. A narrow path leads to the heart of this beautiful, heavenly forest. You follow the path.
The further in you go, the quieter it gets. The further you walk to the heart of the forest, the more relaxed you feel. After a point, you can no longer hear the buzzing of the city.
There is no one else in this forest. Even the animals are nowhere to be seen. You are alone, yet at peace. This is where you can find your peace of mind.
You find a place to sit down on the grass, not so far from a nearby waterfall. The music of the water is so soothing that you don’t mind it. This is it. You close your eyes and take a deep breath.
With each breath you take, your body relaxes even more. Your mind feels at ease and it stops thinking. Songs of birds in the distance help calm you down. The wind is rustling once in a while. The waterfall is playing the most soothing music into your ears. You take one more deep breath and… slowwwwly… exhale.
The stress that has been residing in your head is now gone. You are completely relaxed and at peace. Your mind is finally quiet and resting.
The birds stop singing. The wind is no longer rustling. Even the waterfall has stopped making sounds. The water is still flowing but without making even the slightest of noise. It is as if someone just hit the mute button!
All of a sudden, everything has gone completely silent.
You are startled by this and you open your eyes. You look around. You are alert and awake. You’ve never experienced such deafening silence. You didn’t even think it was possible!
Now THAT, my friend, is the silence I’m talking about. That is the state you’ll find yourself in once your mind has truly shut up.
Even when you think your mind is calm and quiet, it is not. Just like the rustling of the wind, chirping of the birds and the sound of the waterfall, the noises of your mind (albeit not as nice) are still there in the background. However, once you remove that buzzing you’ve gotten so used to living with, then you become all like “What the hell just happened? It’s so unusually quiet…”
That’s when you become aware of yourself and your environment like you never have before. That’s when you become as alert as ever.
This is because, at this point, your mind is no longer reminiscing about the past, nor it is mumbling about the future. It’s not doing anything at all – which gives you an opportunity to, finally, be in the present.
The Present, The Moment
When your mind stops thinking about past or future, or doing this or that, all you’re left with is the present – that current moment you’re living in. That very second that you’re in.
Once there are no distractions in your head, you really begin to see the moment. And I mean you REALLY see it.
When this happens to me, it feels like I had been wearing glasses that were slightly steamy, and someone just suddenly took them off. My head feels so crystal clear that even my vision becomes crystal clear. I start noticing everything around me, differently. You know how we have our centre vision in which things we look at are in focus, and the peripheral vision where we are still seeing things but not as clearly? When I’m “in the moment”, it feels as if EVERYTHING is focused and there is no peripheral vision!
For example, when you are walking, you are always seeing things, such as the footpath that you’re on, the environment, the people you pass by etc. However, most of the time you’re only just seeing them in your peripheral vision, and not particularly focusing on any one of them. They are just there.
However, when you are “in the moment”, suddenly everything jumps at you. All those things you used to ignore as “background” suddenly come into focus all at once. Everything, all of a sudden, look crystal clear. It feels as if your peripheral vision has turned into a fully focused, ultra-HD vision.
This is all thanks to your mind going quiet. It happens because it is no longer diverting your attention away from the only slice of time that matters: the moment.
This means that you now have a completely undivided attention, with a mind that isn’t focusing on anything. And because it’s not focusing on anything, your focus always stays in the present. Once all your focus is in the present, then you start seeing the present. That is when you are also being in the present.
… and that is “Living in the Moment“.