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The Present Is a Gift

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Spiritual teachers these days seem to be emphasizing in unison the power of the present. To many of us, this emphasis on the present may feel mundane. Isn’t it more dramatic and intense to focus on the past and more exciting and promising to focus on the future? However, inherent in this present moment lays a quiet, simple, joyful, peace.

While the law of attraction seems to focus mostly on creating, placing attention on the present is about being. Perhaps counter intuitively, a dedication to the focus on the present is also an active, not passive, endeavor. While the law of attraction has the promise of creating the life you want, focusing your attention on the present offers the promise of loving the life and experiences you already have. When we are really present food tastes better, we love more deeply and we can savor the peace and beauty that we all have at our fingertips. 

The other day I was having a meal and I noticed my mind was jumping around from subject to subject. I decided to be more mindful of my meal. The food tasted much better, the tree outside looked majestic …  I’ve now decided to dedicate myself to focusing on the present and to savor each moment. The tendency for many of us very busy women is to be thinking about what we have to do next. No wonder most of us are tired. We never really sink into our experiences.

Through self-monitoring and self-awareness we can learn to put our attention back on the present. Meditation can also help us retrain our minds to be more disciplined. Those who practice the Buddhist meditation, Vipassana, often tell about the positive effects this practice has on their ability to hone their attention to the present. My friend, Lauren, who practices the psycho-spiritual path Avatar, often does a walk of atonement, counting thoughts and forms to bring her mind back to the present. The workbook section of A Course in Miracles can also assist in relearning former thought patterns and help Course students move into present awareness.

Ekhart Tolle’s book, The Power of Now, offers many thoughts about working in the now, rather than the sexier and more seductive past and future. The Buddhist nun Pema Chodron (a favorite teacher of mine) writes in her book, When Things Fall Apart, “The most heartbreaking thing of all is how we cheat ourselves of the present moment.” Buddhist teacher Thich Nhat Hahn also encourages us to stop everything as part of our health and healing. In The Heart of the Buddha’s Teachings, he offers, “We have to learn the art of stopping-stopping our thinking, our habit energies, our forgetfulness, the strong emotions that rule us.”

I recently saw a bumper sticker that read “Fearlessly going nowhere.” In this day of create, create, create, I thought this driver might just be an enlightened master, helping us to remember that truly Divine experiences don’t lie outside ourselves. Perhaps going nowhere is just the journey to find our peace and joy.   


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