Meditation Questions: The Power Of The Present Moment

I was asked this question about meditation and more specifically, the power of the present moment today, and I thought I would share:

“My question is about Buddhism and meditation. Thich Nhat Hanh says that in order to transform your anger (or any negative emotion) you have to be mindful of it and come back to your breath in the moment BUT Buddhism he also says to inquire about that anger deeply (e.g. why was i really angry)…but isnt thinking about emotions and past events against Buddhism? how am i to live in the moment if I’m thinking about an instance that caused me to feel anger in the past?

For example when I meditate thoughts come up (normal)… should I think about them ‘deeply’ or ‘let them go’. I have thoughts that make me feel anger or resentfulness toward someone who I thought was a friend. meditation would say I should just come back to the breath. But then meditation also says to focus on that thought and think deeply on it, in order to transform it… which do I do? I dont know which to do when I sit down to meditate… think about nothing or think about why I was angry last night.

Or another example: meditation tells you to focus on just the breath and clear your mind… Then some of these guided gratitude meditations ask you to fill your mind with something/someone you are grateful for… Which makes you go into your head, bring up and image of them, and thus you are taken away from the present moment again… Makes no sense to me.

thanks for your help!”

The Power Of The Present Moment

1. A note on Thich: He’s kind of an Oprah Buddhist… I could never quite get into his work because it feels like its designed for unfulfilled housewives – filled with quick quips, cute analogies but very little depth. Point being is if you’re looking for depth, don’t be surprised by his contradictions.

2. A note on Buddhism: It isn’t a monolith, nor are the meditation practices. You seem confused because you’re trying to integrate 3 different meditations (mindfulness, Inquiry and Loving Kindness Meditation) into one. Coming back to the present moment is a standard practice, – you always start there.

3. A note on your current predicament: When you can root yourself in the present moment, ONLY THEN can you explore the root of your anger and resentment without getting caught up in your emotions on the matter. That’s the problem here – you arent able to divorce yourself from your feelings towards what happens to you to be able to take a sober look at it and learn from it.

So imagine you have a┬áconfrontation at the club and you leave angry at the other guy: were you mad at him? Or were you in fact mad because your ego was bruised in front of that girl? Were you upset that you ‘backed off’ so to speak, that you reacted to an external threat and let it upset your emotional state? Meditating on it you will find the answer, but you have to start by clearing your mind and clearing your emotions.

I’ll give you a personal example: A few years ago I was hung up on a girl… like HARD. And it was really hurting me. I kept getting choked up about it, kept getting upset over it, missed her all the time…

So finally I did the following exercise… I let everything come up – I fucking cried like a bitch… Then I got angry at her, at myself, at the situation, and then I screamed my lungs out and went hoarse… Then I sat and listened…

And you know what I realized?

I didn’t love her. I loved the image of her – what she represented for me – but in actual reality I wasn’t less of a man without her, and she wasn’t really the kind of person I wanted to be with deep down and that’s fine. That realization allowed me to move on and get over the entire situation, because I saw clearly that what my ego wanted didn’t coincide with reality.

In short: I was creating drama for myself.

I could never come to that conclusion if I hadn’t been able to divorce the emotion from the facts, and there are various Buddhist and non-Buddhist practices to do so, just as there are different tools in a tool box.

The most important thing is to start here, now, and don’t force some ‘mystical realization’. It’ll all come at it’s own pace – being present will merely make you ready to receive the wisdom when it comes.

Hope this helps!

Give. Love. Serve.

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