There is often so much clutter standing in the way of the present moment. Although the clutter is in fact happening in the present, and could be defined as “present,” in a spiritual context—the present actually resides underneath the clutter. It’s likened to the clear water that exists beneath the thin layer of scum on the surface of the pond. 

Some of the clutter is external such as our busy lives, friends and family, and lists of things to do. But much of it is internal—our fantasies of the way we think things should go, judgments of ourselves and others, fears that we are doing it wrong, that we won’t get what we want, or that what we have will be taken away. There is so much noise going on inside of our heads.

Many people think that if they connect to the present (the still waters underneath) that they will be free of all the above and consequently experience elation or bliss. While this can happen, it isn’t always the case. In fact, sometimes the present simply reveals an ability to witness the clutter. We get the opportunity to see what is really happening and to access some separation from it. We can experience ourselves as something other than the clutter. We can detach from the constant story telling, meaning making, control seeking behavior that autopilot tends to deliver. Witnessing such things might initially be more painful than blissful, but I believe it is still a worthwhile endeavor.

If we are not our busyness, our list of things to do, our fantasies, judgments or fears… what are we? 

What have you discovered in the present moment about yourself?

How do you access the present and unhook from your own autopilot?

I would love to hear about your experiences in the comments section so we might share with one another how to embrace being present. To encourage each other to take the risk of releasing ourselves from the past and future (both dream states to some degree) and to be vulnerable to what is happening in the now. To aid in our practice of separating from the fantasies and fears and connect to our true nature

Ingrid Mathieu, Ph.D. is a clinical psychologist and author of Recovering Spirituality: Achieving Emotional Sobriety in Your Spiritual Practice.

Follow her on Twitter or Facebook for daily inspiration on achieving emotional sobriety. Watch her short videos or visit her website at

Copyright by Ingrid Mathieu, Ph.D., 2012. All rights reserved. Any excerpts reproduced from this article should include links to the original on Psychology Today.

About the Author

Ingrid  Mathieu, Ph.D.

Ingrid Mathieu, Ph.D., specializes in the intersection of spirituality and addiction. Her book, Recovering Spirituality, centers on the problem of using spirituality to avoid real recovery.

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