How to Be in the Present Moment Always


How to increase your level of awareness? How to be in a present moment all the time?

—Smit, India


Dear Smit,

Yogananda explained that there are three levels of consciousness within our awareness. We shift among these levels throughout the day. Our level of consciousness determines whether we are living in the present moment.

The lowest level of awareness is called subconscious. At this level, we are not engaged in the senses or the world at all but tune into recurring thoughts. These thoughts can be random daydreaming, or rehearsing old emotionally-laden memories, or worrying about the future, or more pleasantly remembering past beautiful experiences. Habits and emotional reactive patterns are stored there as well. This subconscious level is engaged in the past or the future but never ‘now’.

The conscious level is where we are engaged in the senses and the world. We put out energy and get things done. Our awareness at this level is outward through the senses but is controlled by the ego. We attend to sensory input relevant to what we’re currently concerned about and we often tune out other sensory experiences. This level of awareness is only partially in the ‘now’ because our awareness is usually filtered by past experience that the subconscious uses to interpret what currently is received.

The superconscious level of awareness, which is our highest level of consciousness, is attuned inwardly and upward into expanded awareness, connecting with the Infinite. Our concentration is at the spiritual eye. It is at this level that we receive intuitive guidance for our activity. Awareness at this level is definitely ‘now’. It can be nothing else than that, otherwise, the subtle whispers we might receive at that level would be drowned out by the noise of old thought-habits or the restless activity of the conscious mind.

So how to act in the world and be also in the present? It is important for most people to be active in this world to purify their consciousness. Meditation really helps with this. Daily meditation practice helps us keep our consciousness uplifted and expanded. Meditation stills the restlessness that can dominate the conscious mind and send our energy outward in scattered, non-directed ways. Meditation decreases the influence of the subconscious mind on our daily activity, which is what pulls us away from the ‘now’.

Regular meditation practice helps us be attuned to God flowing through us while in activity, and the activity itself becomes God-reminding. We become aware that we are instruments for God in this world. Our activity becomes ‘selfless service,’ which is serving God, not our own likes and dislikes. It is not what we do but the attitude with which we do it. It is the attitude that God (not the ‘ego’ self) is the Doer. It is acting in remembrance of God, for the love of God, and in service to God. If we sustain this attitude throughout our day, then we are living in the ‘now’.

Many blessings,
Nayaswami Mukti