Living in the Present Through Meditation

Living in the present is a true gift that frees us from our pain and anxiety.  When we focus on the present moment, we gain control of lives that can be spinning out of control. In the present, we are liberated from the mistakes, regrets, guilt, and traumas of the past. In the present, we are liberated from the worries, anxieties, and overwhelming tasks from the future.

During meditation, we connect to the present moment because we are momentarily not distracted by our racing, chattering, ego-driven minds. We cannot have the peace and serenity we have during meditation while we aren't meditating because the voice in your head can run non-stop. One of the many tedious and arduous things about the voice in your head is that it is almost never present. The mind loves to bring up past hurts, to dwell on things we cannot change from the past or the future, and to obsess with worry about tomorrow, next week, next year, and even death.

You might think that living in the present is a pop-psychology band-aid to today's problems, but it isn't. Being present doesn't promise that you will never suffer. Being present does have the power though to help you gain acceptance and understanding, to surrender to what is. By focusing our attention on the “here and now,” much of the discomfort, pain, and agony we experience dissipates. Being present is an invitation into the stillness, which is where peace, serenity, and long-lasting happiness can be found. This is where meditation comes in. 

During meditation, one steps away from the hustle and bustle of normal living. By quieting our minds, we may not realize that what we are then doing is living in the present. With the voice in the head silent, we are unable to let our thoughts drift anywhere but to the present. When we realize, as spiritual teacher Eckhart Tolle says in his popular book The Power of Now, that we are not the voices in our heads, we then see that we only ever exist in the present. This means that 90% of that mental chatter filling up our minds is not us. Living in the present moment has that kind of power.

  ~ Jillian Avey, 


More Information:

From the Pure Life Mediation bookstore: The Mirror of Mindfulness by Tsele Natsok Rangdrol

When Was The Last Time You Offered Your Time For Free?

I love this story that I originally heard from Jack Kornfield. It is a heart warming, thought provoking reminder to give a little more. 

The Tire Iron and the Tamale
Published: March 4, 2011
During a roadside breakdown, who didn’t stop, and who did.

During this past year I’ve had three instances of car trouble: a blowout on a freeway, a bunch of blown fuses and an out-of-gas situation. They all happened while I was driving other people’s cars, which for some reason makes it worse on an emotional level. And on a practical level as well, what with the fact that I carry things like a jack and extra fuses in my own car, and know enough not to park on a steep incline with less than a gallon of fuel.

Each time, when these things happened, I was disgusted with the way people didn’t bother to help. I was stuck on the side of the freeway hoping my friend’s roadside service would show, just watching tow trucks cruise past me. The people at the gas stations where I asked for a gas can told me that they couldn’t lend them out “for safety reasons,” but that I could buy a really crappy one-gallon can, with no cap, for $15. It was enough to make me say stuff like “this country is going to hell in a handbasket,” which I actually said.

But you know who came to my rescue all three times? Immigrants. Mexican immigrants. None of them spoke any English.

One of those guys stopped to help me with the blowout even though he had his whole family of four in tow. I was on the side of the road for close to three hours with my friend’s big Jeep. I put signs in the windows, big signs that said, “NEED A JACK,” and offered money. Nothing. Right as I was about to give up and start hitching, a van pulled over, and the guy bounded out.

He sized up the situation and called for his daughter, who spoke English. He conveyed through her that he had a jack but that it was too small for the Jeep, so we would need to brace it. Then he got a saw from the van and cut a section out of a big log on the side of the road. We rolled it over, put his jack on top and we were in business.

I started taking the wheel off, and then, if you can believe it, I broke his tire iron. It was one of those collapsible ones, and I wasn’t careful, and I snapped the head clean off. Damn.

No worries: he ran to the van and handed it to his wife, and she was gone in a flash down the road to buy a new tire iron. She was back in 15 minutes. We finished the job with a little sweat and cussing (the log started to give), and I was a very happy man.

The two of us were filthy and sweaty. His wife produced a large water jug for us to wash our hands in. I tried to put a 20 in the man’s hand, but he wouldn’t take it, so instead I went up to the van and gave it to his wife as quietly as I could. I thanked them up one side and down the other. I asked the little girl where they lived, thinking maybe I’d send them a gift for being so awesome. She said they lived in Mexico. They were in Oregon so Mommy and Daddy could pick cherries for the next few weeks. Then they were going to pick peaches, then go back home.

After I said my goodbyes and started walking back to the Jeep, the girl called out and asked if I’d had lunch. When I told her no, she ran up and handed me a tamale.

This family, undoubtedly poorer than just about everyone else on that stretch of highway, working on a seasonal basis where time is money, took a couple of hours out of their day to help a strange guy on the side of the road while people in tow trucks were just passing him by.

But we weren’t done yet. I thanked them again and walked back to my car and opened the foil on the tamale (I was starving by this point), and what did I find inside? My $20 bill! I whirled around and ran to the van and the guy rolled down his window. He saw the $20 in my hand and just started shaking his head no. All I could think to say was, “Por favor, por favor, por favor,” with my hands out. The guy just smiled and, with what looked like great concentration, said in English: “Today you, tomorrow me.”

Then he rolled up his window and drove away, with his daughter waving to me from the back. I sat in my car eating the best tamale I’ve ever had, and I just started to cry. It had been a rough year; nothing seemed to break my way. This was so out of left field I just couldn’t handle it.

In the several months since then I’ve changed a couple of tires, given a few rides to gas stations and once drove 50 miles out of my way to get a girl to an airport. I won’t accept money. But every time I’m able to help, I feel as if I’m putting something in the bank.


Justin Horner is a graphic designer living in Portland, Ore. This essay was adapted from a message-board posting on


Finding Peace

I was just reading a post at one of my favorite blogs, zenhabits, about finding peace. The author talks about digging deeper to find out why we are stuck in habits that don't serve us. She says to "Find the most loving place inside you – the soft spot that melts when you encounter puppies, babies, or those most dear to you. Pour this love into the tension and painful feelings. This is the healing balm that untangles the knot."

Meditation is a good place to practice this. It gives us the chance everyday to stop and look at what is holding us back from being present and open. In meditation, we can see what is coming up and the reaction these thoughts cause. As Pema Chodron recommends, first, recognize the thought as thinking and let it go. What you are left with is the energy and the emotion of what you are feeling which you can sit with and explore without the thinking and judgement. It's a powerful exercise, one that can teach how to find and feel emotions.

  ~ Jillian Avey, 

What Does Vipassana Mean?

This is a question that people often wonder but don't always ask. In it's most simple sense, it means the same thing as Mindfulness Meditation. Here are a few definitions: 

Oxford American Dictionary: 

vipassana |viˈpäsənə| (alsoVipassana) noun

(in Theravada Buddhism) meditation involving concentration on the body or its sensations, or the insight that this provides.

ORIGIN Pali, literally ‘inward vision.’


Vipassanā (Pāli) or vipaśyanā (विपश्यना, Sanskrit) in the Buddhist tradition means insight into the nature of reality. A regular practitioner of Vipassana is known as Vipassi (vipaśyin). Vipassana is one of world's most ancient techniques of meditation, the inception of which is attributed to Gautama Buddha. It is a practice of self-transformation through self-observation and self introspection. In English, vipassanā meditation is often referred to simply as "insight meditation".

The Buddhist Society:

Insight into the true nature of things. A particular form of meditation

Shinzen Young:

Originally derived from the Theravada school of Buddhism, vipassana can be practiced by followers of any (or no) religion as a useful mental skill set. Removed from its cultural and doctrinal trappings, vipassana meditation (usually under the name mindfulness) is finding clinical application in the fields of pain management, stress management,compulsions and as an adjunct to psychotherapy.

~ Jillian Avey,