When dinner was served at a wedding of a close friend's daughter, the host walked up to our table to check if everyone was having a good time, how the food was, and if everyone was satisfied with the air conditioning in the hall. "We worked so hard for this wedding," they explained, "and we hope everything will turn out to be just the way we planned it."

In a discussion we had a week later, we discovered that of the 400 participants at the wedding they, the two parents of the bride were the only people who did not enjoy it. They were simply not there. When the first course was served, they worried how the first dance would turn out. During the first dance, they worried about the main course, during the main course they worried about the speeches, during the speeches they worried about dessert and so on.

It is a painful experience not to be present at such an auspicious time as a child's wedding, but avoiding the pain begins much earlier. It begins by practicing mind control on an ordinary day. We can go through an entire day, driving to work, doing our job and talking to other people, without actually being there. Our minds can drift quickly from one end of the world to another, from one century to another, within a split second.

Children are disappointed when they realize that their parents are not present and fully engaged during the time they spend together. We often hear couples complaining, "Whenever I talk to him, I sense that although his body is here, his mind is somewhere else."

Our minds drift back to history thinking of what has happened in the past, or we focus on what may happen in the future. This weakness is the main cause for worry, anxiety, depression and stress. As Rabbi Abraham Ibn Ezra (1080-1164) quotes: "The past is gone, the future is yet to be, and the present is only a split second. Adopting this philosophy leaves no room to worry."

Learning to control our mind to be fully focused on the now is the most precious gift that we can give ourselves, our children and our loved ones. We are not doing justice to the now if we are spending our time either in the past or in the future.

Like everything else in life, practice makes perfect. We can start by setting aside one or two minutes a day in which we fully focus on the now. We should not allow thoughts from the past or future to enter. This should bring us an inner peace, which will hopefully lead to an increase in the amount of time that we are in the now. When we feel our mind drifting away, we can try to bring it back by saying to ourselves, "Come back to the now!"

This is not to say that the before and after are of no significance — a functional and properly-lived life requires the allocation of quality time to learn from our past mistakes and set goals for the future. But once this is done, we must return to be fully focused on the present.

Unlike other resources, time cannot be bought or sold, borrowed or stolen, stocked up or saved, manufactured, reproduced or modified. All we can do is make use of it. Spending time with our children and loved ones while our minds fully engage our mind in the present will yield the most precious moments of our lives.