You are always in the present moment. You cannot be anywhere other than this present moment. The present moment is all there ever is, so even the thought that you can somehow not be in the present moment, is itself, part of the problem. Let me explain:
What you are is presence. What you are is the “presence that is always present,” the timeless, boundless, changeless reality on which everything appears and disappears as in a dream. This presence has no beginning; it has no end. The concepts of space and time simply do not apply. Space and time are creations and projections of the mind, which is not you.
Furthermore, there is no “you” to stay in the present moment. Who does the “you” refer to? Are you referring to the body? Or are you referring to the mind? As already explained above, you are neither the body, nor the mind, but the presence or space in which the mind and body occur. The body is always in the present moment. The mind only imagines that it is somehow not in the present moment. It imagines a past and a future, but all of this is happening in the present moment. The entire event or “happening”: the space or presence that you truly are, the body that is appearing and the mind that is imagining—all of this is always happening in the present moment. Always.
Alright—hopefully you now get the point that you are always and eternally in the now, whether you are aware of it or not.
Now, if by staying in the present moment, you mean to free yourself from the endless mental chatter that plagues you; if you want to live with greater peace, tranquility, and harmony – regardless of what happens in your life and circumstances—that is something that can be easily accomplished.
Here are a few tips to help you navigate your life with ease and grace.
1. Observe: Become aware of what is happening
The greatest secret in mastering life is to become a keen observer; become a keen listener. The Buddha taught about mindfulness as the great tool to enlightenment. Consider this quote from Krishnamurti:
“In oneself lies the whole world, and if you know how to look and learn,
the door is there and the key is in your hand.”
Simply become aware of what is happening in any given moment throughout your day. Are you feeling frantic and compulsive? Notice it. Are you feeling overwhelmed and anxious? Gently observe it. Are you feeling excited and joyful? Just watch it. Whatever is happening, whether good, bad, or indifferent, practice observing it without judging it (and notice when you judge it too). Observe yourself labeling certain things as “good” and certain things as “bad”; racing mind—bad. Quiet mind—good. Just keep noticing the whole entire process.
2. Accept it: Surrender completely to the Present, the “Now”
The greatest secret to living at peace is to practice surrender in every moment. In each and every moment, life is exactly what it is. What is, is. The problem occurs when we don’t want what the present moment is presenting, and even fight against it. We want something else; we yearn for something new; we want something different; we want more of this and less of that. Then we realize that we are wanting something different and that we should not be wanting something different. Instead, we should be accepting the present moment. And this creates more mental chatter. Just observe this entire process—the whole thing, and surrender. Let go. Accept it completely. Total acceptance and surrender is the key to total freedom.
3. Make it a Habit: Make It Constant
Make the above two steps a habit in your life. Most of us have a lifelong habit of not observing and not accepting. Many of us have a habit of fighting or resisting practically everything that shows up in our life. An encouraging and liberating fact of life, however, is that we CAN change our habits. We can learn and implement new behaviors, attitudes, and actions. Start to cultivate a habit of observing whatever is happening, and then surrender to that moment. You can intend to change the future, but you must always accept the present. Fighting against the present causes nothing other than additional mental turbulence. Your peace of mind is directly proportional to the amount you are able to surrender to what is.