The Eternal Now: Establishing Mindfulness in the Present

I’m sure I am not the only one struggling with being in the present, with mindfulness, with here and now. It is so easy to feel upset about things that have happened, or long for things that are lost. And, in my experience, it is even easier to spend your time trying to figure out and plan for the future. What if this happens? Then I can do that. But if it doesn’t happen? Then I’ll do like this instead. What if he cancels our appointment? Then I could have time to go and get this. Maybe I should actually cancel myself in order to have time for that…?

Yesterday evening we were talking about the fact that now is all we’ve got. Everything else is just an idea. Let us look at it from a Care & Growth point-of-view.

The eternal now versus the future

We can start off by looking at all this planning we constantly try to wrap our heads around. Examining it a bit closer, extensive planning is a way of trying to manage outcomes. We think we can figure it out! But, without doubt, a lot of things we didn’t plan for can (and will!) happen along the way, which will require of us to be flexible and rethink what we do anyway. All that exact planning is actually a bit of a waste. However, the wastefulness of it is not the biggest problem.

The biggest problem is that when we are busy planning ahead, busy managing outcomes, we are actually missing out on the present. Missing out on the present also means that we are missing out on doing things well. It changes our attention from doing things well (which is a way of giving) to getting them done (which is a way of taking) and THAT is a huge and sad difference. When we do things to do them well, they nourish us. When we do them to get them done, we use ourselves as the resource and get depleted instead of nourished. That is taking the highway towards exhaustion and in worst case even burnout.

I know that it may seem like a lot to ask that we shall do everything we do with the intent to do it well. Some things we feel we just need to get done, but understand that anything we manage to do with the intent to do it well, will be more pleasurable. May it be paying bills, doing company administration chores, or cleaning – all activities that we do to do them well will nourish us and make it feel better in our own skin.

To summon up the eternal now versus the future, I’d like to point out that it is useful to have a goal for where you are going. Start your education to finish it and get your exam. Use that as your aim, to give you direction. But in your everyday activities, make sure to rest your attention on the learning, not on passing your exam. It will not only make it more interesting, but it will also increase your chances for actually passing that exam.

It’s never too late to have a happy childhood

Let us then turn the other way and have a look at how the eternal now works versus the past. Surely, we have a past. How can we say that the now is eternal? I have memories from my childhood, so I know I have had one! True. Talking about your childhood, though, and about remembering it. Let’s say we count the first 15 years as our childhood. If we were to remember everything that happened, that would take…yes! 15 years. Therefore, any account of your childhood that is shorter than 15 years, will consist of a selection of memories. Interesting. So which ones will you select? The important ones! So which ones are important? The ones you make significant. Your childhood memories will consist of the ones you make significant. And when do you make them significant? Now. Wow.

Let’s say I were to pick out 15 memories from my childhood. I can without doubt say that each one of us have had 15 horrible things happen in our lives. They won’t be the same things, but we could all find 15 horrible things if we looked. In the same way, we could find 15 happy things. Or 15 sad things, 15 times when we felt done in, or 15 things that made us stronger. Do you see? We choose our past, and we do it now. In this eternal now, that we are always in.

When we let the past be the past, and the future the future, without trying to manage it or worry about it, the now that we are in is most of the time not bad at all. So, let’s stay in it and be present, so we don’t miss it.

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