Almost every spiritual teacher I have ever come across talks about being in the NOW. Most of us know what it means intellectually, but rarely give it much thought or put it into practice. Occasionally, I may be counseling someone who becomes extremely carried away emotionally. Sometimes, they feel disoriented and detached from the here and now. This may happen when an upsetting memory is triggered in the brain and the body relives an early experience as if it is happening again in the present moment.
When that occurs, I ask them to focus on the feel of their feet touching the floor, look at the picture on the wall, feel the texture of the chair, and come back to a centered concrete state. At that moment, they are completely in the NOW, here and nowhere else. They realize that the past is over and they are safe.
Yet, in the very next second, they may be remembering the past or discussing what is going to happen in the future. Why can’t we stay in the moment? We live life looking ahead to this evening, tomorrow or our birthday and lose today. I have discovered experiencing the NOW is something I have to work at the same way I work on my physical fitness and with the same dedication.
Every day I walk on my treadmill and perform my Daily Inner Workout that consists of letting go of any stress that I am burdened with. This is necessary because, like most people, I tend to build up worry and anxiety about the future and feel better when I release it daily. Today, as I exercised, I began to think about this and reminded myself to be here NOW.
So I looked in front of me at the painting of flowers that has been hanging on that wall for at least five years, and noticed how warm the orange and green colors were, how pleasing the composition seemed and how soothed the picture makes me feel. There is a window to the left that looks out into my back yard. I noticed the sun shining and the bright colors of the branches of a large tree that hangs over into my lot from my neighbor’s yard. I rarely appreciate that tree although it has been there for over 30 years. I had never looked at it from that angle before although I often glance out that window.
As I walked along, going nowhere on my treadmill, I told myself that right now I have nowhere to go and nothing to do except to be aware that I am alive and breathing. Then it dawned on me that I was staying in the NOW for a longer time than I usually manage. And I felt how good it was to know that the future is unknowable and that right then I was OK.
On some days I try to stop time and be in the NOW when I am driving. I turn off the radio or CD I am distracting myself with and notice the quiet that fills my space inside and out. I notice what is in front of me as if I have never seen it before, although I drive down the same streets every day. In that moment I feel happy. I hope that you will take a moment now and then in your busy life to check in with the NOW also.