Make it a habit!
I never fully understood what the “present moment” was until recently, after several hours of meditation sessions. I knew what the term “present moment” meant but it was so difficult to truly understand because I couldn’t distinguish the difference between what was the past, present and future. My thoughts were scattered with memories of the past and anxieties of the future.
Anytime you think of a past memory or future thought, you are not in the present moment. There should only be one single thought in the present moment and that’s one single thing you are focusing on right now – which is you reading this now. Not what my title said when you saw it earlier and not what the next paragraph says in 5 seconds but right now. If you looked at the title or the next paragraph, you stepped out of the present moment because you were distracted.
After meditating for a while, I made it a game. I would focus on my breathing for a while, then allow my mind to start meandering off. But then I would bring my attention right back to my breathing and box myself into focusing on my breathing only. This was very difficult at first but the more I focused on it, the more I was able to “forget” what memory or anxiety my mind was trying to feed me along with the emotions that came with them. The moment that I boxed myself in with my breathing, my thoughts piped down right away.
If you can keep boxing yourself into the present moment when some past or future thought arises with some negative emotion, you naturally get into a mental state of equilibrium. Of course it’s not easy at first, but if you can learn to tie your own shoes, you can learn to rewire your brain into staying in the present moment.