I am terrible at numbers. If someone in a shop gives me a handful of loose change, I can barely even count it. Do NOT ask me to add two large numbers up in my head. Sometimes I worry about what I'm going to do if my kids ever need homework help with... god forbid... fractions?! Given what I've just told you, just imagine how preposterous it would have been if -- back in the days when I worked as a journalist -- my news editor had said, "Rebecca! We need a story on the latest findings in Abstract Algebra and Advanced Calculus! Go and research it -- deadline is five o'clock." Whatever I wrote would have sounded ridiculous to a qualified mathematician. And probably WRONG. Well, this is exactly how I felt when I stumbled across a slightly snide article yesterday entitled "The Problem of 'Living In The Present'" -- featured in no less than The New York Times, a publication I otherwise quite respect, which boasts a daily readership of 9.32 million.
The article states that "Inspiring as it seems on first inspection, the self-help slogan “live in the present” slips rapidly out of focus. What would living in the present mean? To live each day as if it were your last, without a thought for the future, is simply bad advice, a recipe for recklessness. The idea that one can make oneself invulnerable to what happens by detaching from everything but the present is an irresponsible delusion." The author (a philosophy professor) then precedes to use Ancient Greek philosophy and politics to even more deeply confuse his proposition.
WHY an academic intellectual -- who has clearly never experienced Buddhist mindfulness -- has been given free rein to write about 'present moment living' in such a negative and scientific way is beyond me. Firstly, "living in the present" isn't the same as "carefree / spacing out / zoning out / daydreaming / YOLO"... and it doesn't mean sitting still or having no desire/action in life, either.
Some of the readers commenting below the article sum it up best: "This writer begins with a definition of “living in the present” that is so faulty and antithetical to what mindfulness actually is that it makes proceeding with the rest of this article difficult or outright impossible", states Mark B. And Laura M says: "Any of these commentators could have written a better and more insightful article than the author, who has obviously never had the profound experience of the present."
Personally, I believe that conscious awareness can be applied in life whatever you're doing -- washing the dishes, making love, entering data, even texting on your phone. Living in the Now Moment has a sense of spaciousness and "hereness" and a quality of the infinite; it is a felt sense. It's very hard for humans to hold this state 100% of the time (unlike dogs - and two-year-olds!), but the inability to do so hardly makes you a failure. It's just something to keep in mind and try to practice whenever you remember. Why? Because people who live their lives unconsciously suffer severe Soul Disconnect -- a topic I was privileged enough to be interviewed about on The Inspired Vibes podcast show this week. You can hear my 45-min interview here.