My teacher used to say “be here, now”. No matter what one is doing, being present is a blissful, expansive experience. When you are busy doing, how present are you in the doing or are you off somewhere jumping from thought to thought. It’s easy to let the mind run its endless stream of thoughts, of which you probably have no idea where some thoughts have come from. We give a great deal of energy and focus to our thoughts but little to being the witness to the continuous thinking. The problem is, we believe most of what we think and our world is created based upon those thoughts we nurture. Being here and now decelerates us while expanding our awareness and presence. In the here and now we find intoxicating bliss that leaves no negative residual side effect. In this week’s blog I thought I would share my thoughts on being present.
A great deal of our time is spent in the work place thinking. We are encouraged to be doing, producing, and above all, be busy. In today’s workplace, the focus is upon getting results and often not about how those results are achieved. Young people have grown up in a world focused upon multi-tasking. I recall my daughters being on our home computer chatting with friends, while simultaneously on the house phone and their cell phone. There is little focus on one thing, but rather a split focus on multiple things all at once. At the same time, more and more people are increasingly feeling stressed and fatigued. I would suggest our inability to be focused upon being present in the moment is contributing to our mental and emotional ailments. Having to focus upon multiple tasks while continuing to produce more is exhausting and stressful. By being present, here and now, in what one is doing, one’s productivity increases, one feels open to possibilities and there is a general feeling of euphoria. My teacher used to say “true creativity flows from a quiet mind”. There needs to be greater focus in the workplace upon single tasks with an attentive, present mind. Productivity would increase, sick time would decrease and people would feel more engaged with what they are doing.
Similarly, when we are with other people we are not always fully present. Our minds are not focused upon what other people are saying but rather how we will respond or what we need to be doing after talking with this person. There is a general lack of commitment to being present with the person we are talking with. We need to put aside the thoughts of being elsewhere or of doing other things and be fully engaged in our relationships. A lack of attentive listening is a key contributor to today’s high divorce rates amongst married couples. Our children do not feel heard and our parents are ignored until they are sick and aged. Bringing your full presence to a relationship is like watering your garden. The plants you want to prosper, those bring us bliss, will be able to grow and flower in a cared for garden. So too, will one’s relationship flourish when one is present and attentive to what is nurtured, weeded out and cared for. Being present in a relationship is a gift for the one you are in relationship with and ultimately a gift for yourself. Being present requires courage to look at the reflection of ourselves that we see in the other person. When we have the courage to be fully present, our relationships will be what we dream them to be. We will see the benefits in the good and bad, as every situation is an opportunity to learn.
When we are alone, we often find things to fill the void or emptiness so we don’t have to be here and now. Filling our time means we don’t have to look in the mirror and address our own thoughts. We typically don’t take time to be with ourselves, to listen to the thoughts and rhythms of our being. Our lives are so fast paced we can’t slow down and enjoy the bliss that is our true nature. Sadly, the happiness and joy we so crave is available within us right now but we try to find it in external things. We must be daring to simply be with ourselves with loving compassion; the good, the bad and the ugly. In doing so, we find we are really not any different from anyone else. We all have skeletons in our closets, features we don’t like and in some ways think highly of ourselves. Yet, we are all part of the same creative force.
Being here and now, means we are present with whatever is happening. Regardless of what is occurring for us; we are being with it without side tracks. We don’t get distracted by random thoughts or events. I once heard Pema Chodron describe being here and now as “when our minds and body are in the same place at the same time”. These words for me clearly articulate what it is to being present. When our thoughts are in the same place as our body, we are being here and now. Daily meditation is our exercise in practicing being mindful, in being present. In meditation, we can be aware when our minds are drifting elsewhere and when they are here and now. Practicing meditation prepares us for when we are not sitting on the meditation cushion. So we can be present when we are in business meetings, when we are meeting with friends and when we are sitting by ourselves. The practice of meditation prepares us for life’s journey, moment-to-moment. We are able to be the witness to life’s events, to experience them fully and to learn from every opportunity presented to us. There is far greater bliss in the here and now. After all, what else is there than the present moment. Every other moment is either the past or the future, it is not what’s happening here and now.
My gratitude to all those teachers who have come before me and who have shared their insights. It is through them I am able to fully experience being here and now.