‘Now’- in reality that is all we have. In fact, reality only happens in the now´. I know it can feel like an abstract concept when trying to understand this popular wisdom with the mind and, it will stay an abstract concept, if we only approach it with the mind. Perceiving reality as it is (otherwise known as being ´here and now´) is an experience and not an idea because an experience can only happen ´in the now´, and includes the senses, while an idea is a solely intellectual phenomena.
The mind at large, or mind-produced thoughts, are generally busy with a supposed reality in the past or in the future which, of course, covers everything from wishful thinking to fearful thinking without being unconditionally present to the current state of affairs. ´Now´ is where life happens, where we get to participate and respond to our experience, without distancing ourselves from it through mind activity. Not to say that the mind is bad or not useful in the now, nor to say that one can’t be present whilst the mind is active. However, to point out the world of difference between a meeting of the self in the present moment beyond the stream of thoughts, and a moment in time clouded by the stream of thoughts, busy with a future or a past that does not allow us to simply meet the reality in which we are, ´now´.
The reason why practicing to be present to the here and now is extremely valuable, especially in a time like this, where the future is uncertain and potentially disconcerting, is that only in the now do we have agency. The moment we leave the present in our minds we have no more power over how we want to meet this moment, with the challenges, feelings and beauty that it entails. Not being present to the here-now is like missing it all together, disconnecting us from the creative influence we have on our perception of reality. Missing the moment takes away choice and lets us harp on in an automatic, preconditioned fashion, that more often than not creates suffering in our psyche. This may be conscious or unconscious.
It is not a natural disposition for humans to be out of touch themselves, and engaging in future and past scenarios means disconnecting from our being. Therefore, we feel helpless when we are confronted with a challenging ‘now’, not knowing how to stay present and resilient to that reality without escaping into mind activity – which makes us feel more helpless and more disempowered and so we find ourselves in a vicious spiral.
The key is to step out of this trap by practicing present moment awareness. This can be done through the body and the breath as both are intrinsically rooted in this moment, both are testament to the truth that life is only happening right now.
It does take practice, one that the mind might resist vehemently as it loosens its grip on you, which might feel threatening at first. The truth is, though, that if we want to meet a time of crisis as well as growth, we are going to need to be able to anchor ourselves in our being more and more.
Ultimately this is the only place in which fear cannot overwhelm us and challenge is welcome as a means for expansion. In the experience of our being-ness, in the presence of the witness inside each of us, we have a solid ground to stand on, unconditional to the outer circumstances. From this ground we find a space that is so much more apt, resilient and responsive than our mind could ever fathom.
In my assessment, this ability to be able to be aware and present in the NOW, is a fundamental necessity in order for us to steer our future into calmer waters as a humanity.
Nothing wrong with making plans, with optimisation and reform, but if we can not simply be with ourselves, without the need to escape into a past that is long gone or into a future that is not yet here, we will continue to face issues that will forever force us to expand our capacity to deal with them – and that capacity is found nowhere else but here, now. I propose we turn toward that place so we can rise to the occasion, so we can meet the reality we are facing with dignity and grace.
Kanika M. Frings
Co-Founder of DIMA Mallorca, Centre for Conscious Living
Holistic Counsellor and Enneagram to Essence Facilitator