I have often been curious about how we all have favorite styles of undermining the present moment. One of my methods is restlessness. Here the mind spins in circles, often running over the same material endlessly. The body is full of angular, jumpy energy. Anxiety and worry fall into this pattern and the mind runs endless stories and regrets. The attention is like a jumping bean hopping from one object to the next. Concentration is scattered, and even just sitting still is a challenge.
Sometimes a slothful style emerges. It includes laziness, a lack of vitality, and a general fogginess. It ushers in an uncomfortable sense of confusion. And yet, I experience doubt as the most difficult of all the obstacles to presence.
When a doubt appears and I believe that particular doubt, I really get caught by it, and all awareness stops. I seem to become paralyzed. In this case, what is actually being revealed is the doubt about myself, my abilities, even my path. When that skeptical, doubting mind catches me, I'm trapped. If I question the doubt, awareness opens up again. What a relief!
I have noticed that aversion is the easiest obstacle to observe. It includes anger and hatred, and holds a tight burning quality which utterly closes the heart. Fear, judgment, and boredom are all forms of aversion to the present moment. When we examine them, we see that they are really based on our dislike of some aspect of our experience. They are the resistance to what is. This dislike wants to separate or to withdraw. It is unable to concentrate or to explore the present moment with any kind of investigation.
And finally there is desire. All kinds of desires stand in our way of being really present. The desire for sense pleasure, pleasant body and mental states, sights, sounds, tastes, and smells are great blessings in life; and yet, they are very tricky. They can so easily move us into a salvation mentality: If only I had the right job…the right relationship...a vibrant personality...more intelligence... better body...a mature partner...a daughter that listened to me.
Doesn't the social mind tell us that if we string enough pleasurable experiences together, our life will be happy. And happiness would look like this: We would work out in the morning...meditate...have a delicious breakfast...followed by productive work...then an enjoyable dinner, a movie and mind-blowing sex...and finally restorative sleep.
But isn't it the energy pattern of the mind, "the wanting mind", that presents the problem, not the object of desire itself?
This "wanting mind" keeps us continuously grasping for our own wholeness and interferes with our ability to deeply open to what is actually here.