The only difference between a baby and adult is the passage of time. What happens in the passage of time? The accumulation of experiences. Experiences are stored as memories. Memories keep our mind occupied with either pains, fears, regrets or, desires, hopes and dreams.
It is the thoughts of all these things which separate us from being present, which is the only way to have true peace and happiness.
To be present means to not be in the past or future. It means to be without thoughts. Thoughts are memories. The baby does not have any memories and so is fully present, but of course, not for long.
If thoughts cause us pain, bringing up fears or unfulfilled desires, then peace comes when we have no thoughts. To be present is to not be thinking about memories. This makes sense and is easy to understand. Being present means to end all mental and emotional pain, but only while you are present.
The way to be present is to be aware of this moment only, what is happening right now. Right now you are breathing. If you focus on your breathing, and relax your chest, you will be present. If you do this with your full attention, you will find a peace overcomes you, and you will understand.
Follow your breath
Following the breath is the most common technique of being present and stopping your thoughts. The question is why can’t we stop our thoughts? Why are there so many thoughts always going round in our mind? The reason is, strange as it may sound, that you want to live, you do not want to die.
I give that as the explanation because the only way to stop all your thoughts is to be completely done with life. Ready to die and leave your body, your life, this world, and move forward.
All your thoughts are related to your life, either regrets of your past, fears of what could happen to you in the future, or will not happen, and desires of what you want to have, now or in time over the course of your life.
If you are willing to give up your life, completely and freely, then you would not have any thoughts. So the way to stop the thoughts is not necessarily to desire to die, but at least to be fully willing to die and leave this world without looking back at this moment and every moment to come. Every breath should be considered your last breath and release that last breath as you would release yourself from your body.
You may have thoughts of beyond this life, but most often they are related to you as the individual you are, and thus related to this life in some way. To be present is to not have desires related to your human life. Then you are present and not off in thought. Thus, relinquishing your life simultaneously relinquishes all thoughts.
Breath is consciousness
If you do not have a body, you do not have to breath. When you are fully willing to relinquish your life, you can also release your very last breath. It is the story of Sodom and Gomorra in the bible. How Lot was instructed to leave the city and not look back. As he and his wife left, she could not stand not looking back, she turned to get a glimpse of the city in ruins and turned into a pillar of salt. Salt being the basic mineral element of our body, and thus a perfect symbol of human life on earth. She was too attached to her life.
Lot did not look back, he moved forward and attained freedom. It is the same with every breath of our life, every moment, to be looking forward without the slightest thought of what we leave behind. This time, we are not just leaving the city, but our life, body and this world.
We can get closer to feeling this by leaving our possessions, leaving our home and doing a long trip.
In Islam a moslem is required to make the pilgrimage to Mecca at least once their life. One of the rules of the pilgrimage is that before you leave you must pay all your debts, make your will and arrange your affairs in case you die on the journey. This way, you can take this journey with a completely free mind.
If we can relinquish our possessions, our home, or take a long trip without a fixed plan at all with the attitude that you may never return to your home or anything you own, this is a way that will help your mind open to the state of being willing to relinquish your life.
As you do, your last breath will be relaxed and free. Only then with that free breath will you know the full meaning and experience of what it means to be present.