When we meditate, what we are practicing is learning how to remain in a permanent state of consciousness. We’re trying to break our old patterns of running from the present moment or being hijacked by our thinking mind.
During our meditation practice, we practice noticing when we’ve left the present moment and somehow gotten lost in thought. Once we can see that we have, we then bring our attention back to the present using a mantra or some other modality.
Another way in which we can practice consciousness is in our daily lives. We can practice continually withdrawing our attention from the past and future whenever we don’t need to be focused on either. In this way, we actually step out of the time dimension all together. It’s only when we can step out of time that we can exist entirely in the present.
If you notice that it is difficult for you to do this, start by observing your habitual tendency to escape from the now, from this moment right here.
You will begin to observe that the future is usually something we imagine either as being better or worse than the present. And if we imagine that the future will be better, all that does is give us hope and anticipation. If we imagine that it will be worse than it is today, it creates enormous anxiety. Either way, we aren’t living in the present.
Once we bring more self observation into our lives, more presence comes into our lives automatically.
The moment you realize you aren’t in the present moment, you ARE present. - Eckhart Tolle
Whenever we are able to observe our mind, we are no longer captivated and trapped by it. Instead, what we are left with is the witness. This witness is the one who observes the present moment.
Another way to become the silent witness is if you can become the watcher of your mind, your thoughts and your emotions as well as your reactions to various situations that arise.
If you can be just as interested in your reactions as you are in the situations or people who cause you to react, you can build the “noticing muscle” needed to stay in the present moment.
Simply notice how often your attention is in the past or the future. Don’t judge yourself or analyze what you are observing, just notice.
Watch your thoughts, feel the emotions behind your thoughts, be a witness to the reaction they stir in you.