Living in the moment

For a healthy person, it’s impossible to live in the moment. It’s a nice thing to say in terms of seizing the day and enjoying life, but our inner lives and experiences are much richer than that.”
– from Why Living in the Moment Is Impossible: Decision-Making Memories Stored in Mysterious Brain Area Known to Be Involved With Vision.

This reflects an interesting and slightly amusing misconception. It seems that the researcher assumes that living in the moment refers to having no memories of the past or scenarios of the future, which is clearly not the case.

Living in the moment can simply mean noticing it’s all happening here now, in immediacy, including any memories of the past or scenarios of the future. It doesn’t mean excluding anything, just noticing. (At least in my experience.)

If I took living in the moment to mean avoiding memories or the past or scenarios about the future, it would be stressful, futile, and not very functional or practical.

If I take it as bringing attention out of thoughts – perhaps when I notice churning thoughts about the past or future – and to sensations, then it makes a little more sense. It’s a practical way of shifting out of churning thoughts, and noticing it’s all happening here and now. It can be a relief, and offer perspective.

And if I take it as an invitation to notice it’s all already happening in immediacy – including memories of the past, scenarios of the future, and images of the present – then it makes even more sense.

So if living in the moment means consistently avoiding or being free of memories and scenarios, it’s clearly impossible – and meaningless as a pursuit. If it means noticing it’s all happening in immediacy, it’s quite possible, and it can even be interesting, a relief, and bring a sense of coming home. And if it refers to what’s already happening, then it’s unavoidable. It’s all happening in immediacy, including any images we have of time, of the three times, and what happened, happens and may happen in time.

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