Escape the Here and Now
“There’s only one reason why you’re not experiencing bliss at this present moment, and it’s because you’re thinking or focusing on what you don’t have…. But, right now you have everything you need to be in bliss.” — Anthony de Mello
“How shall I attain Eternal Life?”
“Eternal Life is now. Come into the present.”
“But I am in the present now, am I not?”
“Because you haven’t dropped your past.”
“Why should I drop my past? Not all of it is bad.”
“The past is to be dropped not because it is bad but because it is dead.”
Precious moments are the fertile seeds, life embeds into your now experience.
Anthony de Mello’s opening fable reminds us of the futility of clutching onto the past, since our needs are met when we are grounded in the present moment.
It is difficult to stay present when bombarded with the avalanche of outside noises vying for our attention.
Mobile phone devices and other electronic gadgets prevent us from opening to the present moment because our attention span is limited.
The need to escape from the here and now through multitasking, for example, is based on the assumption that we will be more productive.
It is the lure of the future being better than the present that most excites us. So, we transition from one moment to another, hoping the next will be better but rarely is it that way.
“People who think there’s somewhere to get to and that “there” is better than “here” don’t tend to spend much time enjoying the present moment,” writes Jamie Smart in Clarity: Clear Mind, Better Performance, Bigger Results.
Craving the Next Thing
“Always hold fast to the present. Every situation, indeed every moment, is of infinite value, for it is the representative of a whole eternity.” — Johann Wolfgang von Goethe
The future has its own problems and challenges, but we are eager for the next moment to arrive because we are constantly discontent.
Can you see the foolishness of our thoughts when we believe our happiness lies in the future and not in the present moment?
In that respect, we are like mice in a lab experiment looking for the exit out of the maze, only to be met with a dead end.
It is a relentless journey of anxiety, frustration and longing.
We become spectators of our life instead of being the main character. We flee from the present moment just like an actor transitioning from scene to scene in a play.
Author Dennis Merritt Jones explains in Your Redefining Moments: Becoming Who You Were Born to Be: “The irony is, our body can’t be any place other than in the present moment, but far too often, our mind is elsewhere. Mindfulness is the practice of calling the thinking mind back to where the body is, wherein the two become as one in the present moment.”
Happiness is not dependent on attaining something outside of you because once you do, you are likely to crave the next thing.
After a while, you become accustomed to yearning and not appreciating what is taking place now.
I invite you to connect with the power of precious moments to cherish the gift of your now experience.
The Power of Precious Moments
“Life is all memory, except for the one present moment that goes by you so quickly you hardly catch it going.” — Tennessee Williams
I was speaking with a client recently who was bemoaning her current problems. They were resolvable by any means, but from her perspective they were out of reach.
I invited her to consider the issue from the viewpoint of a person dying from a life-threatening illness, someone who would give anything to be in her shoes.
While an extreme example, it helped my client to see the folly of her thoughts and the insignificance of her dilemma.
Jan Frazier writes in The Freedom of Being: At Ease with What Is: “When you notice yourself ‘lost in your head,’ bring your attention to what’s in the immediate scene. Whatever activity or condition is apparent; what your senses perceive; what you’re doing; what you feel like physically. Bring the primary focus to the reality of the present moment, even as you’re aware of the larger context.”
The point is, when we are caught up in our pain and suffering we want to run towards pleasure – hoping it will end the suffering.
However, these are momentary glimpses into happiness since we are not confronting our problems but fleeing from them.
To appreciate the precious moments of your life, accept each one as perfectly orchestrated for your highest good, even if it doesn’t look that way.
This means being in a state of reverence for co-creating each experience as it should be.
Lean in to your problems and openly accept them, knowing they contain the seed of something extraordinary for your life to unfold.
If you continue to run away from the present moment, it will gather momentum and come crashing upon you when you least expect it.
This moment, this wonderful precious moment is a gift. There is nothing for you to do other than to be alive and appreciate the wakefulness of it.
The American Zen teacher Ezra Bayda avows in The Authentic Life: Zen Wisdom for Living Free from Complacency and Fear: “Surrendering to the physical reality of the present moment, we learn to go deeper with each in-breath, entering the silence, the equanimity, of reality-as-it-is.”
The present moment is to be treasured because it is there where you experience your authentic self.
It is not the Returns and Exchanges division at your local department store, but a treasured gift that flows through your life unimpeded.
To analyse the past with regret or look to the future denies you the gift of your now experience.
Aware and Awake
“The present moment, if you think about it, is the only time there is. No matter what time it is, it is always now.” — Marianne Williamson
“Life can be found only in the present moment. The past is gone, the future is not yet here, and if we do not go back to ourselves in the present moment, we cannot be in touch with life,” writes the Vietnamese Buddhist monk Thich Nhat Hanh.
A great deal is written nowadays about the power of gratitude – and for good reason. It is an important lesson that teaches us to stop and be present, instead of being caught up in our minds.
We become aware of and awake to our present moment surroundings and appreciate what unfolds. To expect the story conjured in our minds will somehow come to life as we imagine, only fuels our suffering.
Moreover, this imagined plot seldom transpires as we hope.
A practice I take part in when I sense being disengaged from the present moment, involves walking around my home touching various objects while noting their texture.
Some surfaces feel cold, hard, and soft yet they evoke distinctive sensations within my body. This simple practice anchors my awareness to the present moment instead of being caught up in my mind’s dialogue.
By being aware of these moments, life offers clues to what is in harmony with my greatest self. I need not run away from the present, but pause and offer gratitude for the opportunity to experience what is taking place.
Jan Frazier says: “Life takes place in the present. The looking happens there, in presence; and ultimately, the course of action will be decided there, in some present moment.”
Make it a priority to disconnect from what you’re doing throughout the day, even if it means stepping away from the office or your work schedule. Notice as many things as you can while outdoors and appreciate what you see.
Avoid checking your mobile device for status updates or news events which keep you hypervigilant as to what is wrong in the world. This is not your reality but the reality you are dragged into.
If you seek happiness, it will only be found in the present moment, not in a mobile app.
Be mindful of what’s taking place in your immediate environment for that is the true source of happiness.
“When we’re aware of being in the Now, present moments come and go, like ripples and waves in the ocean of awake awareness,” explains Loch Kelly in Shift into Freedom: The Science and Practice of Open-Hearted Awareness.
For the Master knew we must let go of our attachments to the past not because it is bad but because it is dead.
This vital clue alone points to the significance of each moment being a precious gift that can slip through our fingers if we’re not attentive.
After all, the past and future cannot coexist anymore than our thoughts about it create its reality.