In today's fast-paced world, it can be easy to focus more on what's down the road than what's in front of you. Though living in the present is often a challenge, former monk Jack Kornfield says it's important -- especially for those looking to find more peace and calm in their lives.
As one of the founding fathers of Buddhism in the United States, Kornfield has spent 40 years devoted to Buddhist teachings and living mindfully. On a recent episode of Oprah's "Super Soul Sunday," the spiritual teacher revealed how several lessons of this ancient practice apply to the modern world, including making an effort to live in the present.
"Recognize that thoughts about the future are thoughts," Kornfield says simply. "You don't have to believe them because half the time, they don't come true."
Similarly, Kornfield also advises not to get swept up in the past. "Thoughts about the past are gone. The past you can learn from, but to be awake is to live here so that when you are with the person you love, you're really present," he says.
Being overcome by past or future thoughts can also give way to worry and fear. Worrying about what has happened in the past or fearing what might happen in the future prevents you from truly appreciating the present. "The fear, contraction or confusion we have is not the end of the story," Kornfield explains. "We have the capacity for freedom and dignity no matter what."
To illustrate his point, Kornfield quotes the poet Hafiz, who said, "Fear is the cheapest room in the house. I'd like to see you living in better conditions."