Our lives are suspended in the continuum of time. We are constantly moving from yesterday towards tomorrow. Yesterday becomes only a memory of the past. Tomorrow is still a dream of what may come. Yet today, the Now, is the only time in which we are truly living. It is our authentic experience. Once we have experienced it, it too fades into memory and we enter a new moment of life.
For our lives to flow freely and fully, we must experience each present moment while we are in it. Our tendency, however, is to remain stuck in the past or look to the future. We miss what is happening now in all its vitality and fullness.
The Journey of Life is Like Driving Down the Highway
We know we cannot drive safely if we’re looking in the rear view mirror all the time. If we did, we could fail to see the curve in the road, a child on a bicycle, or a stop sign. The results would be disastrous. Likewise, if we hold out hope for some exciting turn that may…or may not…lie ahead, we lose focus on the road, missing the scenery or worse, causing an accident. No one would drive that way. Still we often try to live with our focus on some other time or place. The evidence is clear in all the “I’d rather be…” bumper stickers.
Our best use of the flow of time is to allow the past only to orient ourselves in the present. It is perfectly acceptable to wisely use past experiences as seeds for learning and developing, preventing repetition of mistakes. But if you are always trying to get back to conditions of the past or flee from them, you remove yourself from the natural flow and impede your own development.
Thoughts are Powerful Forms
Thoughts grounded in the past contain the power to bring back old reactions that are not necessarily appropriate for what is being experienced now. For example, if you sit down to a meal and see a dish that reminds you of a previous dinner you may begin to savor expectations before you taste it. Your thoughts tell you it will have just a certain taste or texture and you are primed for it. When you put the bite into your mouth and discover it’s not the same dish at all, your memory of the past experience may negate the present. You may spend the moment complaining instead of savoring the flavor of the different but well-prepared meal before you. Instead of trying to recreate what was, let go of it and bring your focus back to what is on your plate right now!
Living in the present moment means letting go of that which is either dead or unborn and accepting what exists. It is acceptance of ourselves for who we are and where we are. The greater our self-acceptance, the less need we have to strive for something different. We let go of self-rejection. We have more freedom to be who we really are without projections or escaping into imagination.
Being present with what is, allows us to see exactly what is going on around us—Reality. Then we are in tune with natural laws, the flux of constant change. When we are in alignment, we ebb with the tides and bend with the winds. This means: no more and no less. It gives us freedom from fixed ideas of what has to be. Our identities are then no longer dependent on outside experiences, but are naturally free flowing from our inner selves. Then we do not hold onto any moment, but relish it for what it is. If we strive for the golden coin of happiness based on yesterday and tomorrow, we miss the treasure of today.