Q: You mentioned staying awake to the here and now, but how can one focus on the present if the present is full of suffering and stress?
P: Excluding physical pain, suffering does not exist in the present. We suffer when our conscious travels back to certain memories in the past. We feel worried or anxious when our conscious travels into the future. When you are awake to the present, suffering does not arise although any physical pain you have remains. Physical pain is in the realm of the physical world and cannot be eliminated mentally.
However, physical pain can influence the mind. Physical pain leading to mental suffering such as anger or regret is an issue of the mind. Such mental suffering will disappear when you focus on the present. This does not mean that physical pain will also disappear. If you focus on the present, you will recognize physical pain simply as a sensation. Since most of us have an aversion to physical pain, it causes mental suffering. So you simply recognize physical pain as is without liking or disliking it.
I should not say that because I fully recognized that there will be consequences to my choice. So all choices are equal except when you make a choice you have to be aware of the consequences and be willing to accept this consequences.