Few things are easier to describe and harder to do than catching the present moment without words or thought. The crux of the matter is time.
Most of us take for granted that time flies, meaning that it passes too quickly. But in the mindful state, time doesn’t really pass at all. There is only a single instant of time that keeps renewing itself over and over with infinite variety.
The secret about time, then, is that it exists only as we usually think of it. Past, present, and future are only mental boxes for things we want to keep close or far from us, and by saying that “time flies,” we conspire to prevent reality from coming too close. Is time a myth we are using for our own convenience?
In the one reality, the only time on the clock is now. The trick to dropping the past is to find out how to live now as if it were forever. “Now” is more complex than it looks. Are you in the now when you are most active and energized, or when you are most still?
Take a look at a river. On the surface, the current is fast and restless. At the middle depths, the flow slows down, until one reaches the bottom, where the silt is only slightly stirred before you touch bedrock, where the motion of water no longer has any effect.
The mind is capable of participating at every level of the river. You can run with the fastest current, which most people try to do in their everyday lives. Their version of now is whatever has to be done right now. For them, the present moment contains constant drama. Time equals action, just as it does on the surface of the river.
Adapted from The Book of Secrets, by Deepak Chopra (Harmony Books, 2004).