It is also on my recommended reading list I give to my yoga students. I wanted to share Tolles' thoughts about the now and the future with my students, it seemed to be the right time, and judging from comments that were made after class it was something some of them needed to hear.
Many times when I talk about living in the now, living in the present, students eyes glaze over.
It is such a simple concept, yet so difficult to grasp. We are so geared to think about everything but now. We wag our pasts around, reliving our tragedies, our sorrow, our use to be and what might have beens. We worry and project about our futures, thinking so foolishly that we can control them. And what happens between dwelling in the past, and constantly looking into the future, we miss out on right now.
Tolle talks about the past as a memory trace, stowed in the mind, it is a former now.....when you remember the past, you just reactivate a memory trace. He calls the future, an imagined now, a projection of the mind. He reminds us that when we think about the future, we do it now. That the past and the future have no reality of their own. He compares them to the moon, and just as the moon has no light of its own, it only reflects the light of the sun. The reality of the past and the future are "borrowed" from the now.
I believe that our pasts help to shape who we are now, and the experience helps us face the future. But we cannot let the weight or the glories of the past take away our now. Just like we cannot allow our worries or projections about the future to overshadow our present.
How many of us take just moments each day to really be present??? Do we feel the wind or the warmth from the sun? Do we acknowledge people as we pass them on the street? Do we know if there are flowers blooming, when is the last time we listened to a bird sing? Do we know what our partner was wearing when they left for work this morning? When' s the last time we noticed the texture and taste and smell of the food we were eating. When you took your morning shower, how did the water feel as it washed against your skin, what did your soap smell like?
One of the saddest things anyone ever said to me, was several years ago at a class reunion.
I was talking to someone I had graduated from high school with, and on the outside it appeared that life had been very kind to them. They were married, with children, successful in business, known throughout their community. But as we stood there and talked, this person made the remark to me that the best time of their life had been in high school.........now this was some 15 years or so later. The question that kept running through my mind, what is wrong with you,
can't you see, the life you have.....all you are doing is reliving your memories, taking them around like baggage, living in your past while the present whizzes by.
I think gratitude plays a big role, in our ability to let go of the past, and live in the now. So, maybe a few years ago, we were younger, and stronger and better looking and more popular and faster and you fill in the rest of the blanks! But what about now, hopefully you have learned something, you have experienced love, and sadness, and all those emotions in between. Life is fleeting, and none of us are promised a future, all we have is right now.
So stop beating yourself up over what might have been, and stop sweating about what might happen tomorrow. It truly is all about now. Find one thing to tonight to be grateful about, and when you wake up tomorrow morning, find one more thing to be grateful for. Gratitude will bring you joy, and for many of us, it is time we gave ourselves permission to have joy and peace in our hearts NOW!