Monday, November 10, 2008

Today is a Gift

Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, today is a gift – that’s why it is called the present!

Even though it isn’t Christmas yet, I like to give you a gift today. Although the past, present, and future appear separated, they are tightly intermeshed. For example, as soon as I speak a sentence, by the time I am done with my thoughts, the beginning is already in the past. Every word I speak is created in the present, while the end of the sentence remains dangling in the future.

When your mind is focused on yesterday or tomorrow, your involvement of the present moment is impoverished and today passes you by.
Do you ever reach Saturday and wonder where the week has gone? Do you feel that your children are growing up too fast? Do you know where your thoughts are when you are driving?

Awareness of the present moment will make you feel in control of your life. Of course, learning from our mistakes, reminiscing over the past or planning for the future have their places but after you’ve done so, let these thoughts go.

There is power in the NOW. Eckhart Tolle, the German-born author who lives now in Canada, wrote a whole book about it. Focusing on the present moment expands our awareness, leads to good habits and allows us to perfect certain skills, like playing an instrument, climbing a mountain, cooking a meal, or repairing a car.
Eckhart Tolle suggests: Free yourself of the mind. Become conscious or aware of yourself – that’s being present. Since Being, consciousness, and life are synonymous, we could say that being present means consciousness becoming conscious of itself. Most of us, however, are identified with our mental and physical forms.

Here are my gifts to you where I felt being present:

Slow Down, be present:
Remember when you were a child? Time seemed to pass very slowly. Children have no concept yet of past, present or future. For them everything happens in the NOW. Watch children play, get engrossed in their light-heartedness. Feel the happiness and joy, become detached from your own life and dream with them of a better future.

Baking a cake:
Baking a cake or other pastry is one of my favorite past-time. I can get so engrossed in it that I forget time and space, usually making a mess along the way. But I don’t mind to clean it up afterwards. I enjoy the aromas baking creates around the house. I especially like the compliments I get from my family and friends when the creation turns out well and everybody loves to eat my cake.

Outdoor adventure:
I used to go mountain climbing. One time, we started before the crack of dawn. We had to find our way with flashlights. By putting one step in front of the other, we moved along the path. Even when the sun rose, we were still climbing. The path often became very narrow, with rocks becoming loose. It took my focused attention to stay on the trail and not loose my balance. Keeping my mind on the summit, or if it wasn’t visible, picturing myself standing on the top, helped to keep moving. By keeping this focus, I felt safe and eventually reached the top.

A starry night:
Look into space on a starry night, feel the peace and harmony of the universe, let go of yesterday’s burden’s and have no worry of tomorrow. Feel the stillness, listen to the sounds of nature, smell the sweet smells of a blooming bush and become one with the essence of it all. The open space fills you with wow’s and ah’s. You are in the presence of holiness, aware of the creator who made it all. Let gratitude fill your heart.

Pay attention:
I used to pride myself of multi-tasking: doing my homework while listening to music, walking along the street knitting, cooking and talking on the phone, etc. When I learned about the power of focus, I understood why I don’t have many memories of details. And even memory is a skill. The older we get, we have more data stored in our brain. With focus and stillness we can retrieve names, phone-numbers, etc. We say: pay attention, it takes effort to focus and listen. Focus on one person or situation at a time.

I am sure you have your own special moments where you felt awareness, peace and synchronicity.
By focusing on the present moment we have control over the “stimulus and response,” talked about in Man’s Search for Meaning by Victor Frankl. "Between stimulus and response, there is a space. In that space is our power to choose our response. In our response lays our growth and our freedom." He discovered that even in the most adverse circumstances we still have a choice. We can chose to react as a victim or find meaning in whatever happens.
From the Bible we learn that we don’t make things happen. God does it. God sends us precious experiences all the time. He wants us to grow and mature and therefore provides for us opportunities. We just need to show up, be available, notice, be aware, pay attention. Be present to the moment.

Anytime we are focused in the NOW, we don’t feel regret, we can find meaning and eventually live up to our full potential.

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