What does it mean to ‘be present’ and ‘live in the now’?
Let’s break it down. The past is made up of a series of moments in history that no longer exist as they were.
The future is a catalogue of delicious potentials that haven’t yet been given form.
In other words, the only moment that actually exists right now, is now.
Once a moment has passed, it becomes the past, and the further from it you go, the more changes take place. If you hold onto that moment as the truth of what was and carry it forward as what is, you’re not being present to what’s currently taking place. Neither are you honouring all that’s changed since that moment, including you.
Let’s say you lived in an abusive home when you were younger. That’s a fact; it is part of your truth. Living in the present means allowing for the integration of the lessons from that experience to permeate your being, while not focussing on the behaviours and feelings of the experiences.
If you continue to define yourself by the pain of the specific hurts and emotions, you’re perpetuating the abuse on yourself. The actions have already taken place, and have provided a gauge to measure how you feel moving forward. If you find yourself feeling familiar fears and insecurities rising up in a connection with someone, that’s your indicator that it may not be the right fit for you.
The same thing applies to the future. If you’re living a life based on a specific (hoped-for) future outcome, you’re missing the magic of the moment. It’s like going on a first date and picturing yourself walking down the aisle with this person on your arm. You begin to build a story around this, with a white picket fence, kids and a dog. You’re projecting an outcome into the future which is tied to a specific event and person. That means all other potentials have been discounted, and the present has been hijacked.
Living in the present means meeting each person and situation knowing they have a trajectory of their own, with hopes, dreams and potentials not yet imagined. It means taking each situation at face value; a first date is a first date. When you’re present, you enjoy the spontaneity of whatever arises in each moment, accepting that this may simply represent a moment in time, and not a lifetime.
One of the benefits is that you’re able to respond creatively to whatever arises. You’re not busy wishing for a bigger, brighter tomorrow, or thinking about how things were better then.
If you’re presented with a challenge, a past-focussed perspective can result in disaster thinking or a choice to engage in soothing behaviours. You’re basing possible outcomes on what’s happened before, and not using your incredible powers of creative thought to find a solution. A future-focussed perspective will go through all the potential pitfalls to land you at the worst-case scenario before you’ve even had the opportunity to sit with the problem at hand.
Another advantage to living in the now is that everything is new, and an opportunity for greater understanding. Each being you come across is felt on a deep level to be a reflection of you. In that awareness, when you meet someone you don’t immediately take to, you can see where they might be offering you a chance to stretch. If you feel a resonance deep in your heart, you can see the beauty they’re reflecting to you.
Life feels calmer in the present. You can access infinite potential and the inter-connectedness of all things. You can dream up wonderful things and plant seeds for them to become whatever they become, at some point in the future. In the present, you can know that wherever you are, right now, is exactly where you need to be. You can begin to look at the ‘detours’ as adventures and stay open to spontaneous changes of plan. You can breathe deeply and take time to smell the flowers.
Being in the present means you’re fully engaging with what is, right now. When you’re eating, you’re savouring every bite. If you’re working, you’re lovingly completing one task at a time, to the best of your ability. When you’re making love, you’re fully engaged with your partner, body, mind and soul.
In the present you discover the beauty of life as it infuses all your senses with its wonder and magnificence. You feel connected with all aspects of you, using your five physical senses and your multidimensional knowing to experience the fullness of living. When someone speaks to you, you bask in the feeling of their words landing in your heart. If someone touches you, your skin soaks up the sensation with gusto.
When you’re present, there is no need for distractions, because you’re comfortable BEing with whatever arises. You’re BEing Here, Now.
In the present, you’re directly connected with your ability to respond. It’s a wonderful state to be in, because you’re constantly surprised, in wonderful ways. There’s no need to escape from or avoid people or situations. The person you smile at on the street may end up becoming a dear friend. The opportunity you say yes to may end up being the path to your wildest dreams.
Being in the now is a state of surrender and trust. There is no pushing or striving towards a desired outcome; instead there is acceptance of yourself and your surroundings as exactly ‘right’ in this moment. And as the next moment arises, that feeling of acceptance creates a state of peace and harmony. That’s how presence feels.