How often are you living in the present?

I’m reading spiritual guide Eckhart Tolle’s book The Power of Now, and it’s very interesting and inspirational for me. As the title implies, it’s very important to live in the moment and let go of the concept of time. 

His teachings reminds me of “Buddhism for Dummies” in the sense that he espouses Buddhism, but framed in a way that can speak to Western sensibilities. I am a Buddhist and a yogi, and a lot of the principles overlap. This doesn’t mean I couldn’t use a reminder.

Appreciate the “Now, the most precious thing there is. Why is it the most precious thing? Firstly because it is the only thing. It’s all there is. The eternal present space within which your mind unfolds, the one factor that remains constant.”

To do that, he suggests you savor each action, each moment. “…you can ask: ‘What’s going on inside me at this moment?’ Be at least as interested in what goes on inside you as what happens outside.” Stop thinking about what happened before, or what will happen next.

I can live too much in my mind – the “monkey mind” – , so I decided to really try this. I’m lucky to have the time and space right now to give this a concerted effort. 

I was sitting in yoga class and noticed how often I drift into thinking about other things: What’s for lunch? Don’t forget to e-mail Chris that information. What time to get Olivia today? Should I set up a playdate for this weekend? Am I still mad at that comment so-and-so made to me? What was that thing I heard on NPR today?

All of this is stuff from the past and the future. None of it was the present.

So I made a greater effort to be here, now. Feel the body. Feel the breath moving through the body. How does that stretch feel? How does the fan breeze feel on my face? Where are my feet? Where are my fingers?

It’s amazing, when I paid attention, how often my mind drifted off, requiring me to gently nudge it back to Now. Hey, I never said I was a good Buddhist.

I’ve never practiced yoga this way. I used to let myself zone out during the easier poses, particularly at the end, when you do the “corpse pose.” In fact during that one, I would sometimes fall asleep. 

I left yoga feeling calm and peaceful, feeling like I had no problems in this moment. It’s probably something I’ll always have to consciously work towards, but it’s a goal worth striving for.

 

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