Nothing could be more true than the statement “I am here.” Where else could I be? And by “here,” I mean in this precise place at this precise moment—in the present. We are actually always here, but without practice, we usually don’t realize it. Our minds are constantly telling us we are somewhere else: If you “think” about it, every thought we have is either about something from the past or something to come in the future. It’s impossible to have a thought about the present. Even the thought, “Wow, this view is breathtaking!” is not about the present, because as soon as the thought arises, it’s describing something we saw a moment ago, in the past, even if we’re still standing at the top of the mountain looking out over the stunning vista below. The present moment is speechless, thought-less. We’ve all had the experience of encountering something so beautiful or so horrifying that words fail—we just perceive, without any mental commentary. We are just “here.” Usually that lasts only a moment or two, and then our minds leap into describing, relating, memorizing, etc. That’s not a bad thing, but it’s not being in the present.
The present—being “here”—is a state of stillness inside. It has no need for words because it knows all it needs to know. It doesn’t stress or fret or rage, because it accepts that whatever’s happening is actually happening, even if it’s upsetting. Of course we may choose to act to change an upsetting situation, but when we are “here,” we do that from a place of internal quiet, even if our actions are far from quiet. This is about the internal experience of our lives, not what we actually do externally. When we are caught up in our minds, we are subject to whatever emotions are triggered by our thoughts. That’s often not peaceful or contented. But when we let go of the patterns, stories, fussing in the mind, and just come into the present moment, here, we can see things clearly, realistically, and respond to them directly, in ways that serve us and promote peace and contentment in our lives.
Meditation, yoga, and other similar practices train us to find “here” and to be able to stay “here” for longer and longer periods of time. This is a powerful antidote to the mental/emotional states we so often find ourselves in. As the clichéd postcard reads, “Wish you were here!”