Since the publication of Eckhart Tolle’s excellent best selling book The Power Of Now, concepts such as ‘living presently’, ‘living in the NOW’ and ‘living the moment’ have become much more prevalent in our society. There is nothing new about these concepts. They have been around for millennia.
For example, the Gospel writer Matthew attributes the following to Jesus
“Take therefore no thought for the morrow: for the morrow shall take thought for the things of itself.”
But how many of us really understand what living ‘in the now’ means?
When I take my parents’ dog Tina for a walk to a large field near their house, there are often a lot of rabbits and Tina starts to stalk them. The rabbits sit there nonchalantly chewing on the grass until she gets a certain distance away. Then all of a sudden, they’re off.
They have an instant response. There is an instant change from feed to flight. Then as soon as they reach somewhere they know they are safe (e.g. behind a fence or in some thick briars) they are instantly completely calm again. They do not spend days worrying about the terrible dog incident. They do not sit quaking with fear in case it happens again. They do not call on various fluffy tailed friends and explain to them what a terrible day they have had at the field.
It is done. It is finished. They are straight back to feeding, straight back to living. Living in the moment in total harmony with their surroundings, including potential threats. Those rabbits respond only to what is, not what has been or what might be.
Most humans, on the other hand, spend the majority of their time not engaged with present moment reality, but lost in thought, either in the future or the past.
Our mind is often re-hashing some incident that has happened in the past and is long since over and done with, or it is imagining what the future will bring. Neither of these things need necessarily be what we often call ‘negative’. It might be regret or pleasant reminiscing. It might be worry or imagining for oneself a great future.
This is not ‘negative thinking’. It might be very positive, but still it takes one away from present moment reality and in doing so it greatly reduces one’s effectiveness to act and also one’s capacity to really take in the miraculous wonder of all that surrounds us, always, right now.
One can only powerfully affect the future by acting powerfully NOW. Now is the only time we ever have, the only time in which we can act. One cannot act powerfully now if one’s attention is either in the past or in the future…