Saturday, 13 July 2013

Being present - my interpretation

About three years ago, I read a book that was fairly life changing, and I'm sure it helped me get through a tough time of unemployment. You may have heard of it. It's 'The Power of Now' by Eckhart Tolle, one of the best known spiritual books today.

Photo by supernova studio
I had been aware for some time that my past was affecting me, hadn't been quite so aware that I was obsessing a lot about the future. But one thing that was a completely new concept to me was the idea of living in the 'present moment' - not being affected by past and future, just giving your full attention to what is, without attaching labels or emotions. It's not easy for most of us to do, and I certainly haven't been practicing what I am trying to preach now.


In Western society, we have been trained to live our lives in our heads, which has created huge problems. Our minds store various memories based on what we have experienced in life, and we come up with our own conclusions of life and various situations. Emotions that are not probably dealt with will create pain, and our minds will perpetuate the pain by constantly reminiscing about the past and creating future interpretations of life based on that. For example, if you've always struggled with money, the mind will have made a conclusion that money is hard to come way, and make you worry about the future. I don't need to tell you that the current economic situation is bringing up many such worries for many people. The mind wants answers as to why things happened or didn't happen.


Photo courtesy of Sun Ladder via Wikimedia
I am actually a big fan of clocks. Once I get my own place and a bit of money together, I will probably get a few clocks in the house. We need clocks to function in this world. But where time becomes a problem, is when we keep living our lives based on our past or our fears about the future. Many, many people are bitter about something that happened years ago.
In my own life, I have struggled with things that have happened or not happened. Some things have had a great deal of emotional weight. Yes, there are times when we need to face our demons. That's a whole other subject. But where I am at now, is that I know I need to be present as much as possible, and not let past and future affect me so much.


Being present means going beyond the constant mind chatter that most of us get. Sandy Newbigging, in his book 'New Beginnings' puts it something like this (paraphrased) - 'Imagine if we don't have a past. What would life be like then?' I guess, for me, it's coming back to a place of realisation that we are created in the image of the Divine (however one interprets that), and knowing that love is the true essence of our being.
For most of us, it is not possible to be present most of the time - the pull of past and future can be strong - but things like meditation, being in nature, reading a good book - can help us enjoy the moment we're in.


Photo courtesy of Fancq
The mind wants answers such as:
When will I meet/will I meet the perfect partner?
Will I be able to do the things I love and get paid for it?
Will my children turn out okay?

And often, they can be based on negative perceptions such as:
When will I get out of the 9 to 5 ratrace? 

Why did this shit have to happen to me/what did I do to deserve it?
Will I live a life that's not ideal until I die?

Sometimes, there are things we just don't know. We could torture ourselves with trying to convince ourselves that things will get better or wishing things were different. We can easily look 20 years into our future by doing this. Being present means that - there are things we don't know, there is no certainty that life will work out quite the way we want, all we can do is make the most of the moment we're in NOW.


Most if not all of our problems relate to something that has happened in our past or something that we're worried might happen in the future. I don't necessarily suggest ignoring certain problems, but it's good to spend some time being present before we face certain things. Our minds create a whole host of problems. Sometimes the best thing to do is forget about them. Often, it takes quite strong adversity to really push someone into consciously becoming more present and being truly aware of how beautiful life is. Sometimes we get to a point where we can't take much more and have little choice but to be more present, even though our minds may resist.


Our minds are so used to living in the past and future, and it takes effort to commit to living more in the present. For most people, it is not an overnight thing. But I believe it's a good solution to much of our problems - to be present as much as we can - and life will flow more easily, problems will be solved more easily, and we will discover more of our true solves.

To your success

1 comment:

  1. Great post Andy, wishing you all the presence you desire now. Interesting about the clocks too, I think Thich Nhat Han mentions you can use clocks to measure your breathing too. Count as you breathe in and out and this is a good way to practice presence on the breath.


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