Time and mindfulness

To understand the idea of mindfulness it is important to understand the concept of time. Whenever your attention is not on the present moment, it is in the area of the imagination, not on reality. The only reality is the present.

The Past:

The past exists as memories, assumptions, conditioned responses etc

  • We construct the past out of our collective assumptions. We make assumptions about the past based on the present.
  • The past has gone. We can learn from it but nothing we can do will change it.
  • When we go over the past rarely is it learn from our mistakes, more usually it’s as we think that by revisiting it we can change it.

The Future:

The future exists as possibilities

  • We fantasise about what could be or about possibilities.
  • We use calculations and other intellectual activities to predict the future.
  • The future won’t happen in the way we think it will. It rarely does.

We can’t control the future except in so far as we can change this moment of time, but usually we are so caught up in the past or the future that we have relinquished our real power which is in the moment.

Real concentration is about being in the present. The past and future are generated by our minds, only the present is real. This is nowadays called ‘mindfulness’.


In an exercise on mindfulness, the participants were given a wrapped chocolate ball and were told to slowly examine the wrapped sweet, unwrap it and then place the chocolate ball into the mouth. Without sucking the idea was to allow the chocolate to slowly melt around the tongue until it had completely melted. The process took around fifteen minutes. When the exercise was completed the instructor asked the participants how they found the exercise. Every one of them said it was the best chocolate they had ever had. It wasn’t that the chocolate was so wonderful, it was because they concentrated on the taste instead of being distracted.

Many people tell me that they can eat a whole family-size chocolate bar whilst watching television and afterwards hardly be aware of what they had consumed. Mindfulness can be practiced at every moment. Become aware of the senses, the experience of the moment instead of thinking about the past or the future.

By Philip Braham on .







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