As yogis we hear it at least once a day or at least we see the “Be Present” yoga pants everywhere. The phrase is slowly becoming something we say often, like a cliche, without truly sinking into what it is. Modern interpretations of this concept are also starting to pop up here and there in corporate culture. More on that later.
But what does it really mean? From the depths of your being, how do you utilize it as it relates to living your life, or working your job? Do you define it at all or is it something you tell people when you simply want them to pay attention to what you’re focusing on?
Some will say it’s simple; to let go of the past and not worry about the future is to be present and live in time. But aren’t we built by our past, and if so, isn’t the past a grand part of the present moment? And how would we ever get anything done if we didn’t at least consider the future? The answer is as clear as mud. What I can pin point are some moments that are free of rejection, worry, loss, anxiety and fear. Those moments are pure grace, pure laughter, pure presence. They allow us to bathe in the beauty of where we are and experience the simple clarity of the moment. No matter how messy something may be, inside the mess there are still moments of pure clean joy.
Last summer, I was driving through the Appalachians with my brother and my three year old niece. It was a sunny beautiful day and we were singing along to some old Russian fairy tale on tape. All of a sudden my brother started screaming and waving his arms in the air. He was enjoying the scenery so much, he couldn’t contain his excitement! “Sasha, look at how beautiful it is!” The lush trees, the green mountain tops, the Spanish blue skies; they had all taken over all his senses. To him, that moment was enough. Life was perfect; we were on the road with the windows open, wind in our hair, even the smell of humid air felt rich and inviting. My niece was buzzing in the back seat excited with song and new adventures. For that moment; there were no relationships issues, no recent family deaths, no daily work annoyances: nothing could infringe on the beauty of our experience. We were all reacting to happiness – especially him. I, of course, had to be sarcastic – “Mike, those aren’t even real mountains. Haven’t you seen the ones in Colorado?” He didn’t care. It suddenly dawned on me that my brother has visited over 60 countries, and in his travels has surely seen more beauty and experienced more excitement than most other people I know, including myself. However, he was able to be completely immersed by the momentous existence of nature’s beauty in front of him. He didn’t compare it to anything he’s seen in the past; it was there right now and that is all that seemed to matter.
If we could all make decisions “in the moment, in time, in the present.” We wouldn’t fear the unknown and we would jump in a way that is calculated yet brave at the same time. We would retain the lessons from the past yet not let the past mishaps detain us from trying again or trying it differently. Ah, to be this aware of what drives our decisions. I think a big part of humanity would be in different professions and nourish their personal relationships more profoundly if they weren’t bogged down by what seems to be modern human propensity to hold on to the past without truly processing it. After experiencing any kind of loss, hurt, or rejection we are then thrown into a cycle of being afraid to do anything where our authenticity rawness and heart shows in fear that we get fired,demoted or hurt again. So, we go with the grain and we become average; we blend in, letting our once vibrant colors and personalities fade. We see each moment the same as the next, we do not consider the possibility of “What if?” The lucky ones work to get out of this cycle and see life with eyes that are connected to the colors and shades of right now, the lucky ones regain their vibrancy and see each moment as a new opportunity to create their life over and over again. To be in control.
There’s another side to this, of course. Like I previously mentioned, how would you ever get anything done – start a business, write a book, ask for a promotion, leave a job, if all you did was focus on the positive aspects of the “now” and revel in life’s pleasures? And can’t those behaviors themselves be considered a form of fear and avoidance? I will leave discussing this in more depth for next time and let you indulge in your own moments for a while.