Episode 4 – Being in the Moment
Learn about Being in the moment. The past is history, the future is a mystery, but today is a gift—that’s why they call it ‘the present. Carrying the baggage from the past stops you from being in the present. Paying the price for holding on to the past.
Transcription of the Podcast
Ravi: Hi, there. Welcome to another episode of Spontaneous Conversations. We chose a topic very spontaneously. It’s this whole notion of being in the moment. This is Ravi Gundlapalli, founder, and CEO of MentorCloud and Rajesh.
Rajesh: This is Rajesh Setty. I’m a serial entrepreneur and a friend of Ravi.
Ravi: Excellent. Again, for those of you who are just listening to this new episode, Rajesh and I have always enjoyed our conversations and we felt let’s talk about it because, every time we are talking without any prior plan, something amazing happens and we both enjoy it and we wanted to share some of those with you. Today, it’s about being in the moment.
Rajesh: It’s an apt episode, Ravi, because we talked about having spontaneous conversations, now there is no choice but for us to be in the moment because we didn’t prepare for it; we picked the topic out of the blue. Let’s start.
Ravi: I think the reason we picked it up is because that’s an attribute that I think both of us share. I have not seen you ever say, “You know what happened two years ago. You know what happened yesterday.” You’re always in the moment, you’re always with me and you are paying full attention to me, which is what I like. I’m sure you see some of that with me as well, is the more you are now, you can enjoy the presence of each other, you can enjoy the nature around you versus being in a beautiful garden and thinking about yesterday’s argument and missing all the beauty in front of you. How sad that is.
Rajesh: That’s certainly true. It’s like you said before this talk, you were remembering a quote, “The past is history, the future is a mystery, this moment is a gift; that’s why it’s called the present.”
Ravi: It’s the present, it’s a gift. What’s the guarantee, Rajesh, that this gift will remain? How many cases have we heard were people have just disappeared just like? Just the realization of the fact that you’re breathing right now and you’re able to enjoy the company of a colleague or a spouse or a child or your pet is actually an amazing gift.
Rajesh: That’s so true. Let’s start with why it is difficult for people to be in the present. Everybody knows it – the past is history, future is a mystery, this moment is a gift; it’s called the present. They know it in some form or fashion.
Ravi: They probably went to school for it. What causes us to not be in the moment is the carrying over the baggage from the past and those baggage comes because of expectations. We expected somebody to behave in a certain way – your uncle was supposed to say something to you and he didn’t, your friend was supposed to do this, they did not. So we kind of create a world of expectations and, when they don’t meet, in bugs us and it remains in the memory. The movie is there, it’s etched and, for some reason, I don’t know why people enjoy replaying those movies.
Rajesh: Exactly. When I was giving talks, I always people that we have selective memory whether we want it or not. We choose to remember some things, we choose to forget some things. Say if I want to make it very simple, like 30,000 foot level, if you forget all the bad things that happen to you, reflect and learn from it but don’t keep replaying the whole scenario again and again, half the problems are done. People always annoyed, “I don’t know what happened to me and how Jack behaved with me. How can I forget it?” I always tell them, “You’re telling me that it is difficult to forget it. Can you tell me the names of all of your primary school teachers?” They say, “Raj, come on. I’m already 36-year-old. How can I remember all the primary school?” “Were the primary school teacher good to you?” They said, “Yeah, they were all very nice. They were wonderful people. I’m so glad I had them as my teachers.” “But you don’t remember their names? That’s very interesting. This Jack person is not good to you, but you remember him very well.”
Ravi: Wow, that’s a good tip.
Rajesh: Because now it’s like Jack did something bad, so you’re paying the price for it. When you keep remembering it, you’re paying an ongoing, monthly subscription surcharge because he says Jack is gone, he must have forgotten about you because he took advantage of you or embezzled money from you and everything. He’s gone. He is happily doing something. Whatever happened to him, who cares? But you, on the other hand, not only paid him for the bad thing that he did, you are continuing to pay him on a subscription basis.
Ravi: Excellent tip. I think those listening should remember this point, that remembering something or forgetting something is, again, a choice we make. It’s your choice. It’s not the computer stores everything; we make a choice to say, “Store this file, store this photo, delete that photo.” What can’t we do it to our mind too? The best way to remove bad is to fill it with good.
Rajesh: Beautifully said. If you are busy doing good, you don’t have time to deal with the bad that happened to you.
Ravi: If your hard drive is full, what you do on your computer? You remove all the unnecessary files that you archive some good ones. Same thing do; just make it a practice. In fact, there are some meditations that teach you how to clean yourself at the end of the day. Just remove all the bad, all the virus files in your brain, and start fresh. That’s a gift
Rajesh: A great way to live. For those of you who are thinking now, “It’s all good in theory, but it is difficult,” the moment you said it is difficult, you made it difficult because you said it. Just now you said, “It’s difficult.” Of course, it will be difficult.
Ravi: It’s a mindset again, it’s a block. I heard a story at a conference actually. There was this Buddhist lecture and one of the doctors in San Francisco, she can to the event to listen to this monk and she was about 10 minutes late. She walks in and, apparently, she said, “Oh my God, the traffic was horrible. I had patients back to back and it took me forever to get here. Sir, by the way, how are you doing?” and, apparently, the monk said, “I am here.” That’s what we want to practice. The traffic jam is gone, the patients are gone, remembering that you’re missing this beautiful opportunity to exchange with somebody. So the best way to remove the past [inaudible 00:06:52] conversation is take a moment and just come to the present and say, “Here I am. I’m going to meet with Rajesh. He’s a great friend,” and just separate out all the past and just imagine. I think I want all the people listening to experience that. It’s magic. Nothing is bugging you.
Rajesh: I totally agree with you and that’s a great story and that’s an amazing response. Although it’s only three words, “I am here,” it is such a loaded response that it takes hours or weeks to analyze what do he mean.
Ravi: I think, again, like we talked about, you asked me the question why is it difficult to be in the moment, expectations from the past and anxiety about the future. Both are really the no-no which will stop you from being in the moment. [inaudible 00:07:47] to a result you can only do now. Can you play a game tomorrow? No; you can play now. So why worry about the game that you may or may not even play in the first place? It might rain or you may not be here.
Rajesh: Very true, Ravi. In fact, if you think about it, it’s like when you are just consumed by the past, it’s like a recursive loop. Basically, what has happened now is that you are creating your past and, in creating that past, you are regurgitating the previous past.
Ravi: And then creating the present to be past again.
Rajesh: Exactly. And then, because you are so consumed by the past and you are creating the past, you don’t have time to create a great future because this moment that you have to create that great future is consumed by the past.
Ravi: There’s another quote I heard is if your house is on fire, somebody set your house on fire, do you go after chasing who the arsonists was or do you put out the fire? If you run after the arsonist, the example that you said, “Jack did this,” and so on, your house is on fire, bad chemicals are being produced in your body. So you need to, first, get your house in order. The arsonist comes later. Like you said, Jack will be doing something else in his life. Who cares? He ran away. So what? So it’s very important to enjoy the gift because we don’t know how much time we have on the planet. I don’t think anybody can claim that.
Rajesh: If you think about it, you said it before we started recording, that all we have is the present moment. There’s nothing else that we. The past is already gone, future has not come, but this is all we have. Why not make the most of it?
Ravi: Exactly. I have a dog and the dog has taught me a lot, actually, because pets have no sense of the past, they only know who you are. They only have the identity of who you are, but just because you didn’t feed them yesterday, you didn’t take them for a walk yesterday, all of that is gone. They are just enjoying your presence; they’re jumping up and down. Imagine if all of us had interactions with our spouses, with our children, with our colleagues in a way that removes all the baggage and interactions become that much more fun.
Rajesh: Not to be too idealistic or anything, people will say, “Ravi and Raj are talking here as if they are yogis or [inaudible 00:10:29] or enlightened people.” We also go through our own ups and downs, but the idea is, if you’re aware that something made you upset, you got frustrated because you go to the airport and then they said your flight is canceled and then you have an important meeting tomorrow morning. Of course you’ll be frustrated. The problem is not that, because we are human beings, we all get frustrated, but how long you will live in that funk state because the flight is canceled. So you can start screaming at the airlines and blaming everybody in the world or the weather or anything, or we can see what we can do. Because, ultimately, I always tell that all we have got is a few options and, when a flight like that gets canceled, the options get fewer options because there’s not many. Can you go by car? Can you take a charter plane? Can you go by bus? Can somebody drive you? Is there another flight that will take? Can you hop on to multiple cities and go there? Can you do a WebEx instead of actually going there? Is there anything that you can do to reschedule that meeting? There are a number of options. I’m not saying all of them are ideal, but that’s all you’ve got.
Ravi: Correct, and you don’t even know if the other person might say, “I love it. Let’s meet the day after. In fact, it’ll help me,” something like that. So without testing all of those options, you get frustrated. I think it is extremely important to, especially when you are the person, one of the things… Another story I learned is there was a guy who grew up in Silicon Valley, been a great entrepreneur, and he was giving a talk at [inaudible 00:12:23] Association. This guy taught me the importance of time, which is a gift. He came to [inaudible 00:12:30] Association, he gave a beautiful talk about service and then he answered all the questions very patiently until 9:30. And then he said, “Okay, guys, are there any more questions?” everybody said, “No, we are happy. All the questions are answered.” “By the way, I’m actually leaving the country in about two hours. I sold everything I have, I packed up everything I’ve got, they’re all in my car, and my wife is waiting in the car with me. We are both leaving America forever for a year-long trip to serve anybody anywhere in the world.” Throughout the conversation, that two and a half hours he was with, he didn’t even seem that here’s a guy who has lived for 15 years in the US and leaving the country in two hours. He was completely in the moment and the comment he made is that your time is the biggest gift you can give to other people. Money can be made, but this moment we’re talking, June on a particular day at a particular time, is gone forever. I cannot make it.
Rajesh: I don’t know that I can be at that level because it is really [inaudible 00:13:42] to me, that they’re packing up everything, the wife is sitting in the car, everything is inside, in two hours they’re going. That’s something to aim for.
Ravi: It is. Again, we’re not being idealistic, but there are people who practice it and these are not the yogis in the Himalayas; these are everyday people around us that have mastered the importance of, “I want to give my 100% to you right now. I’m not thinking what to say next, I’m not thinking what you said two hours ago. I’m here to listen to you right now.”
Rajesh: It also shows that the number of things that can distract us today are so many because, when we both were growing up, Ravi, the way to get news was through reading newspapers and you had to wait for the next day morning newspaper to come in and see. Today, news will reach us whether we want or not. That there are 1000 sources to where they are bombarding with news – good, bad, ugly, everything. So my thinking is not only about expectations in the past and everything, the bad things, selective memory, everything, also have the discipline to decide what sources you will allow in your life so that they don’t take over your life. You have Twitter, Facebook, LinkedIn, all are good if used right. But if you allow them to take over your life, then you can’t be in the present because you make somebody else’s urgency your priority because they are willing to bombard you with stuff and finally you say, “I don’t have time. Forget about being on the moment, I don’t have moments to be in the moment.”
Ravi: Correct. In fact, one advice I think is one of the things that happens in the moment is, of course, breathing and other is learning. You cannot learn yesterday or you can’t learn tomorrow; you can only learn now. If you create your life now and learning something, you have no choice but to be in the present because you are constantly using the breath that you have, the fact that you’re alive, and you’re learning something new that can only happen in the moment. But if you’re always reading, getting news from other things, you’re reading something of the past. Some might be good that can inspire you to do something, and so maybe bad that can take you back to start thinking about the old things. So you have to control what channels you turn on.
Rajesh: Beautiful. So we should do a couple of closing comments.
Ravi: Why don’t you…?
Rajesh: my closing comment is very simple. I’m a student in being in the moment and it’s a solid work in progress, but whatever little I have achieved, it has helped me a lot. People who are thinking, “You can’t do it,” you just said and then you made that happen, which means because you said you can’t do it, you closed the door of a possibility. So you can start very simple. When you are meeting in the next conversation, you observe yourself whether you are present or not present. You can’t cheat yourself. Tell other people, “Yeah, I was fully present,” but only you know whether you were really fully present. I always think that the big battle like being in the moment is won conversation by conversation. It’s a long journey, like a journey of a thousand miles starts with one step. In this case, it starts with one conversation and if you observe and win that conversation, being fully there, and win another one, win another one, very soon, it will become your second nature.
Ravi: Exactly. And again, that’s actually well said, Rajesh. My closing comment is to develop that skill of catching yourself that you’re not in the present. That’s very important. Sometimes things get dragged on and you realize that, “Oh my God.” I actually am very conscious about what I’m thinking and I have practiced and learned to catch me doing that because the sooner you catch yourself doing something you don’t want to do, then you can actually develop a lot of good habits. It’s the fact that two hours has past that you’ve been on Facebook and you lost doing something productive, that’s bad. So learning to catch yourself not being in the moment, learning to catch yourself that this conversation is not energizing, learning yourself. Catching yourself is really the key.
Rajesh: Beautifully said, Ravi. This is Rajesh, you can find me on rajeshsetty.com/blog, and Ravi?
Ravi: Ravi, mentorcloud.com. Thank you so much for listening.
Subscribe to Podcast Updates