You do not need to know precisely what is happening, or exactly where it is all going. What you need is to recognize the possibilities and challenges offered by the present moment, and to embrace them with courage, faith and hope.
‘Peace can only exist in the present moment. It is ridiculous to say, “Wait until I finish this, then I will be free to live in peace. What is “this”? A diploma, a job, a house, the payment of a debt? If you think that way, peace will never come. There is always another “this” that will follow the present one. If you are not living in peace at this moment, you will never be able to. If you truly want to be at peace, you must be at peace right now. Otherwise, there is only “the hope of peace some day.”‘
To be identified with your mind is to be trapped in time: the compulsion to live almost exclusively through memory and anticipation. This creates an endless preoccupation with past and future and an unwillingness to honor and acknowledge the present moment and allow it to be. The compulsion arises because the past gives you an identity and the future holds the promise of salvation, of fulfillment in whatever form. Both are illusions.
Forgive the past. It is over. Learn from it and let go. People are constantly changing and growing. Do not cling to a limited, disconnected, negative image of a person in the past. See that person now. Your relationship is always alive and changing.
The art of living is neither careless drifting on the one hand nor fearful clinging to the past on the other. It consists in being sensitive to each moment, in regarding it as utterly new and unique, in having the mind open and wholly receptive.
Anyone who’s tried to meditate knows that it is difficult to sit perfectly still with a clear mind and be present. So here are some tips to help you on your way to developing a meditation practice:
1. Take it slow - many of us are jumping into our first meditation with the intention of meditating for 30 minutes or 1 hour. This can cause you to keep checking the time and getting frustrated when you realise it’s only been 32 seconds. Take it slow and start with 1 minute each day, then 5 minutes and build yourself up over time.
2. Exercise - being able to sit still for any amount of time can be difficult, exercising before your meditation can allow you to ease into the practice. Think of the meditation as your mental warm-down after your workout - whether it be after lifting weights or running - the meditation helps to balance the yang energy of your workout with the yin energy of relaxation.
3. What’s the next thought? - it can be extremely difficult to empty the mind and allow yourself to be completely present, especially when your mind becomes overrun with thoughts of things you have to do later in the day. This is where my favourite question for meditation comes in - what’s the next thought? - this forces us to acknowledge that all thoughts pass and after asking this a few times the mind can become clear of thought and you can be present.
4. Senses - another great way to tune into the present moment and reap the benefits of meditation is to use your senses to ground yourself in the now. The senses force us to be aware of what’s going on right now - the sounds, smells, tastes, touches and sights that are happening all around us are reminding us to be in the now.
5. Lessons - integrate what you’ve learned after your meditations. This may be different perspectives you’ve gained from being in the now - realising what’s truly important to you, the value of being present and how to deal with your problems effectively.
Meditation has many benefits for all of us - think of it as your time to receive downloads from the universe. Since meditation teaches us to appreciate the now - why not start your practice today?
Use your meditations as time to be present with yourself.
Mindfulness is the practice of being in the now as much as possible because our bodies are always present, but our minds rarely are. Mindfulness is a great way to begin your spiritual practice because it requires less discipline than meditation and can allow us to clear the mind without having to do anything other than paying attention to the now.
1. Nature - ground yourself. When in nature observe the natural flow of things. There’s no such thing as perfect in nature, no perfect circles, no straight lines - this reminds us to take the pressure off ourselves and allow ourselves to simply be as we are instead of trying to live up to certain standards & expectations.
2. Sounds - hear what’s happening now. Tuning into the now is how we clear the mind of the clutter that is distracting us from living our lives - any time spent outside of the now is wasted because the past is dead & the future hasn’t happened yet. Regardless of where you are or what you’re doing you can close your eyes and tune into the present moment by listening to what’s going on around you (probably not a good idea to do this while you’re driving).
3. Sight - be still & watch your environment. The lifestyles we live can keep us on the go which causes our minds to drift out of the now, being still allows us to take note of what’s happening around us and remind ourselves to be present. Watch the birds flying, water flowing & leaves moving in the breeze and remember that the now is all that exists.
4. Breath - conscious breathing. Short, sharp breathing can activate our fight or flight response - therefore it’s imperative for us to breathe consciously. Take a long inhalation (around 6 seconds), hold it for a few seconds and release for about 8 seconds. When releasing the breath focus on how it makes you feel and release with the intention of inviting relaxation into your body. Breathing in a conscious way keeps our attention in the now because we are focusing on the sensations we feel in the body - in the now.
5. Touch - a physical reminder of where you are. Running your fingers over something that reminds you to be in the now is a great way to tune into the present moment. This could be a crystal, a penny or even a toy of some sort - whatever works for you - the reason this is so powerful is because we’re using one of the senses to ground us in the now. Physical touch is a very powerful sense and can be used at any time, if you’re running feel the sensation of your feet hitting the pavement & if you’re driving focus on how the steering wheel feels.
Time doesn’t exist - the present moment is now and forever.
Through forgiveness, which essentially means recognizing the insubstantiality of the past and allowing the present moment to be as it is, the miracle of transformation happens not only within but also without.