What does "Being in the Now" really mean?
It’s almost 'old-spiritual-hat' to speak of 'being in the moment' these days. New-Age bookshelves are brimming with suggestions of how to let go of the past, forget the future and simply "be in the now". Yet what if every distortion conceals a hidden truth? If I regret something of the past, then perhaps I’m still carrying it’s energetic lesson just waiting to be uncovered? And if I have one foot in the future, perhaps I'm already intuiting the flow of events yet to fully take shape? Maybe then, there’s much more to this 'moment of now' that we’re not fully giving credit to?...
No past, no future, just space-time-continuum
The moment of now and its awesome power is nothing new of course. The great spiritual scientist himself - Einstein - many decades ago coined the term ‘space-time-continuum’: that linear time is but an illusion perceived only within the mind. But how can this be? I leave my house to go to work. If there’s no past and no future, how do I travel from my front door to my desk, and why does it still take me time to get there?
Great question! Perhaps try to see the universe as one enormous, amorphous jellyfish, continually reshaping into new form. In one moment it has one shape, in another it changes slightly to form something new. Now, if the jellyfish represents the entire universe and is all there is, then the past moment - when it had one particular shape - has ceased to be. It literally does not exist. Hence no past. Yet the jellyfish still has a consistency to it. So as it changes shape from one form to the next and by observing its flow, we might still predict the kind of form it will become. Just as you might predict your desk will still be there by the time you arrive at work. You can’t guarantee that of course, but based on a whole host of flowing (and stationary!) factors, there will be a certain likelihood - a probability that it still is.
So that makes this moment - this huge amorphous jellyfish - very interesting indeed. Because it still contains essences of the past - parts of itself still formed from the past - just as it contains shapes forming of what it is to become. Amazing! There is no such thing as linear time, yet in space-time-continuum, I can still see the present seeds of the future sewn in the past.
Throwing the baby out with the bathwater?
- So what does considering the universe as a continually reshaping amorphous jellyfish
have to do with us you might ask?
How might the metaphor help us understand more about the moment
and potentially how we’re being fooled by it?
Well good question. In the work we do here at Openhand, we’re often hearing from people the perception that any thoughts and emotions that potentially block 'this moment' need to be let go of - washed away. So when riding a bike, or taking a walk, to dissolve any thought or emotion that might get in the way of the experience we would like to be having. But is this true wisdom? Is there not truth and value in the thoughts and emotions we're having? Are we not throwing the baby out with the bathwater?
You see here’s the key point, we’re having the thought and the emotion for a reason. They are the product of our consciousness. At their root, they conceal a powerful truth about the moment. Maybe we’re harbouring something of the past? In other words, maybe we’re still carrying that energy of the past within because we haven’t yet processed the lessons of it? And maybe thinking about some future event is not bad, because perhaps we’re actually already intuiting a possible future flow, a highly likely probable outcome - like my desk will still be there when I arrive!
To me, the problem is not that we still contemplate the past, nor that we might be thinking about the future, it’s when we get lost in them that the problem arises. It’s more because we form identities around them regretting what might have been, or desiring what could be. This takes us out of the flow. The universal jellyfish is taking new form, but we’re not really connected to it and therefore can’t bring our full creative power into alignment with it...
If I am truly aligned, I’m having an experience and letting it go simultaneously,
and AT THE SAME TIME, I’m already feeling the new moment now being formed!
If something comes up, let it come!
Of course what I’m speaking of above is to be in an enlightened state. It’s what our evolutionary process is naturally bringing everyone to. But we can’t get to that by denying and dissolving what has been or what is to come. We have to go deeply into what is happening for us, not denying a thing.
If something comes up from the past, let it come. No matter where you are - even if supposedly having a beautiful walk in nature. No! Drop into the feeling that is arising, let it come up, feel it fully, explore why there might be attachment to it: what might we be afraid of or resisting? Go right into the heart of the deepest fear about that and bathe in it until it holds us no longer. Then our attachment to it will dissolve. As similar circumstances reform in the next moment, they won’t hold us and we won’t lose our presence in the flow - we’ll no longer get caught in an eddy current.
Likewise, if we find ourselves contemplating the future too much, contemplate what the outcome is that we think we might need or want? Can we instead realise our true purpose for being is simple self expression and that our creations are merely the vehicles for that beingness? If we can do that, we lose our nervousness, our fear about what the future may or may not hold. We can perceive the way the future is shaping, but we’re being fully present as the new moment is already being born. We’re not procrastinating or dithering and therefore more fully engaged. That way, we can be a powerful influence in the new moment, as it’s forming.
The full power of the full now
That’s what I love about this short scene from "Peaceful Warrior". In it, the lead character Dan speaks of being “this moment”. He is fully in the moment. Yet he’s still aligned with the moment that brought him to this place and he’s entirely engaged with what is taking shape from his immediate future. As you watch, contemplate this and perhaps see that without true alignment - and no attachment - with the past, present AND future SIMULTANEOUSLY, he could not have performed the way he did....
So let's be inspired to live in the moment yes, but also be very clear what the fullness of that moment is, and exactly what it is inviting.