The Present is a Gift

By learning from the moments in life, we become more compassionate and can aspire to live in the present. We can relax and open our heart and mind to what is right in front of us in the moment. We see, feel and experience everything more vividly. This is living. Now is the time to experience enlightenment. Not some time in the future. Keep in mind, how we relate to the now creates the future.

When we find ourselves in a mess, we don’t have to feel guilty about it and angry. Instead, we should reflect on the fact that how we relate to the situation determines whatever happens next for us. We can become depressed and cynical or we can look at it as an opportunity to make ourselves strong. It’s all a choice. Being brave enough to be fully alive and awake every moment of life, including the dark times, is to truly experience life to its fullest. What seems undesirable in life should not put us to sleep or deaden us. Instead, it should wake us up and remind us to live in the moment.

We cannot repress our feelings and we must confront what happened to us. If we do not, we will remain stuck in a state of pain. I spent many years in this state, which I refer to as my “dark period.” Eckhart Tolle refers to this state of being as the “pain body.” In his groundbreaking book, The Power of Now, he explains how the pain body is actually afraid of the light of consciousness. Its survival is dependent on your unconscious fear of facing the pain that lives in you.

In other words, you will remain in a state of pain, darkness or unhappiness as long as you continue to lie to yourself and deny your reality. Resistance is what keeps us stuck in the unconscious realm. Tolle believes the more you resist the present moment, the more pain you create within yourself. The whole idea of Zen is to be so utterly and completely present in the now that no suffering can survive within you. Buddha defines enlightenment as the “end of suffering.”

In my opinion, the only true path to enlightenment is to drop all inner resistance and be honest with ourselves. We must allow ourselves to feel our feelings and not be ashamed. Tolle also explains that each of us have a voice in our head that reminds us of troubles from our past and encourages us to worry about our future. Some individuals listen to this voice more than others. Certain events or experiences can cause this voice in our head to run incessantly.

Tolle believes all negativity is caused by too much focus on the past or future. He explains that worry and anxiety are caused by too much future focus and not enough presence. Being stuck in the past, either feeling resentful or guilty, is a result of too much past and not enough presence. By focusing on the past or future and denying the reality of your present, you remain stuck in the pain-body.

Identification with your mind causes thought to be compulsive. This mental noise prevents you from finding the realm of inner stillness inside you that is necessary to achieve enlightenment. Since the beginning of time, spiritual teachers of all traditions have pointed to the Now as the key to spiritual enlightenment. It takes time to learn to stay focused on the present. It is easy to get distracted by time, noise, anxiety and fear. However, learning how to live in the moment is worth every bit of effort. Once you know how to do it, it is truly life-changing.

I completely agree that all of our anxiety comes from regretting the past or worrying about the future. If you stop in the moment and ask yourself if you are ok, you realize you are not starving, you are not oppressed and you are not a prisoner of war somewhere. You are in a safe place and have much to be grateful for.

It’s easy to forget the many blessings we have, which is why I encourage everyone to have a Gratitude Journal. In this journal, you should write about everything you are grateful for in your life. Whenever you think of a new gratitude, add it to your journal. By writing this down, you begin to see how truly blessed you are and begin to appreciate the abundance in your life.

Yesterday is History
Tomorrow, a Mystery
Today is a Gift
That's why it's called
The Present