Three Ways to Be Present Living for Now vs Living in the Now ~ Peter Russell

In one sense we are always in the present. Everything we experience is an experience in this moment.

Our memories of the past are experiences in the present. So are our thoughts about the future.

When people talk about not being present, they are usually referring to the attention not being in the present moment. When our attention is caught up in our thoughts about the past or the future, and we are no longer so aware of what is happening now.

Unfortunately, most of us spend too much of our time thinking about past and future events. We savor past delights, rejoice in past achievements, ponder whether or not we did the right thing, grieve over past losses and disappointments, get angry about the way things turned out. Or we anticipate future delights, plan our best course of action, worry about what might go wrong, fear not being in control of a situation, anguish over how others might respond.

Most of this thinking is unnecessary; a waste of time and energy. Moreover, it makes the mind tense, which is the very opposite of what all this thinking is trying to achieve—an easier, more peaceful state of mind.

This is why the wise ones have repeatedly urged us to be more in the present; to be here, now.

But what does it mean to be present? There are three principal ways in which people use the term.

1. Living for today. Not worrying about what happened yesterday; nor about what might come tomorrow.

This attitude definitely has its value. It may help us take life as it comes, and not get so caught up in unnecessary fears and concerns. It allows us to enjoy more of what life has to offer.

But it does not necessarily lead to a fuller awareness of the present moment. One may still be as caught up in thoughts as before, even if they be thoughts of today rather than yesterday or tomorrow.

2. Awareness of present experience. This is the starting point for a number meditation practices.

Whereas most of our thoughts are about the past or the future, our sensory experience is always “now”. Thus many spiritual teachers advocate placing the attention on bodily sensations—points of contact with the physical world, the heartbeat, or the breath. The actual feelings in the body are in the present moment.

Then when the mind wanders off into some thought about the past or future—as it surely will—gently return the attention to physical sensations, and so back to the present.

3. Being at ease with everything. This often comes as the result of the long-term practice of meditation.

There is no longer the need to keep the attention to sensory experience. One is present to whatever is—including the arising and passing of thoughts about the past or future.

Some call this the witness mode. There is deep ease, and profound relief. There is an inner equanimity in each moment.

It simply is as it is.

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2012 – Symbol for our times – Peter Russell

Peter Russell argues that the precise date of 2012 is not that important. Rather it represents the temporal epicenter of a cultural earthquake. (Created by Helmuth Hönigmann)

4 Theories On What Happens When We Die

Despite the gigantic leaps made by science in the last few decades, a comprehensive explanation of what exactly happens to us when we die is yet to emerge. Simultaneously, more research than ever before has now been done on near-death experiences — those fleeting, almost supernatural experiences that hundreds of thousands of people have reported feeling on the brink of death.

This oxymoronic combination of progress and the lack of it has meant that a variety of theories on death have emerged in the last several years. Here’s a quick look at some of them.
There Is An Afterlife
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Dr. Eben Alexander III has been a neurosurgeon and an associate professor at Harvard Medical School for 25 years. In 2008, he contracted an extremely rare form of bacterial meningitis and fell into a deep coma.

After seven days of virtual brain death, Dr. Alexander emerged from the coma, virtually unscathed. His recollection of the coma varies from a vision of murky brown, to a journey through “the core”, where he was faced with the vision of God. Waking up, he realized there was another existence beyond the one he knew and had studied.

Most scientists conclude that “when the brain actually dies, so does the mind/soul/self.” But Dr. Alexander’s experience shows that this isn’t the whole truth — how can the soul die with the brain if, in the midst of being brain-dead, one had a rich spiritual experience?

Your Mind Can Function Without The Physical Body
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Dr. Bruce Greyson, a psychiatrist at the University of Virginia, is one of the foremost experts of near-death experiences, having studied more than 100 cases on incidents of near-death. From his work, he has learned that several patients have recounted experiencing a sense of peace, love and a feeling of “leaving the physical.” Sometimes they even encountered deities or deceased loved ones.

Although most scientists dismiss such “experiences” as nothing more than hallucinations triggered by a brain undergoing tremendous stress, Greyson believes that these near-death experiences suggest that your mind can actually function without the physical body. Like Dr Alexander, he says that this “incredibly lucid” experience happens often when the brain is clinically non-functioning.

We Never Really Die
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Biocentrism expert and Huffington Post blogger Robert Lanza argues that since space and time only exist as tools for us to understand the world around us — i.e. without consciousness, space and time don’t actually exist — we don’t really ever die.

Without the concrete existence of time, you can take any moment of time — whether past or future — as your new frame of reference. “Death is a reboot that leads to all potentialities,” he says in one article.

Nothing ‘Fantastic’ Happens
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Like much of the scientific community, Dr. Wendy Wright, a neurologist from Emory University, believes that near-death experiences are purely a function of endorphin release in the brain. “So when these chemicals are released, these different type of phenomena can occur: a person might see a light, or experience a sense of peace or calming. Feel that they’re surrounded by loved ones.” Such visions, although potentially comforting to the individual, are little more than tricks of the brain,” she says.

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