Updated: Mar 30, 2020
I often encourage students attending the yoga classes I teach to stay present in the moment. But what does that really mean? Being in the present moment is what yoga actually is. In my first article on this blog, I quoted the most classic definition of yoga, by Patanjali “Yogas chitta vritti nirodhah”, “Yoga is stilling the fluctuations of the mind.” And to me, that what being present in the moment means.
I decided to write this article in the light of the events happening and because these days more than ever we feel like we have a lot of “time” and it might be easier to practice pausing and just being in the Present Moment.
When you can’t got to work, after you have completed every task on your considerably smaller “to do list”, can’t make any plans for tomorrow, all you have is now and you realise you have time. You’ve stopped running, making, doing, and have the chance to pause and just be. And why it feels so uncomfortable and makes you anxious? Because your mind is used to be constantly entertained, so it starts bringing back memories or fabricates projections for the future. Yes, this is a moment in which our minds might act in our disfavour.
This article is based on my learnings from Eckart Tolle’s The Power of Now, a book I’ve read a while ago and that has had a powerful impact on me. Written over 20 years ago, this book has made me realise how powerful our mind is and how is has taken over whom we think we are. The identification with our minds, constantly thinking, the never-ending mental noise has become part of our lives, we believe we are using our minds; instead our minds are using us.
The mind is subject to the influence of time, and the majority of our thoughts are either based on memories or anticipation. Our minds are pulled into the past (what has been, what could have been, what you thought happened) or the future (what will be, what could be, what might be, if…), or both at the same time. We often believe that events in our past determine who we are now and how we act in the present moment and also our plans and goals for the future will influence our actions in the present moment. The past doesn’t exist and neither does the future. What we think it is the past, are actually memories that we store in the Mind, and the future is based on projections of the mind. Both the reactivation of those memories and the projections are happening NOW.
The concept of time is misleading us into worrying about its passing and imminent arrival, and this stops us enjoying this “presence” we feel. . . So we are either living in the past and ponder over what has happened or waiting and constantly anticipating what is to come, if and when…
However, recognising the power of our minds and how little control we have over it is only the start. Once we have acknowledged that there are thoughts constantly arising in our mind without us being aware of wanting to “think those thoughts”, that’s when the real work starts. We become the observer, paying attention to our thoughts, not judging them, just observing, and letting them go if they don’t serve us. Thoughts control all that happens in our lives, they influence our attitudes and behaviour and regulate our actions and reactions. So I suppose we really want to be aware of what is going on in our minds, right?
The only real point of reference we have to this moment in time, and to this thing we call life is a sense of presence, of being here , now, in this body and seeing the world through our eyes.
The Power of Now has hit me hard. Can I say that it helped me take back full control over my life and I am now able to always stay present in the moment? If it had done that, I wouldn’t be here writing this article. But it opened my eyes and from there the work was all on me, now I have the power to chose the life I want to live. In the process I am benefitting immensely from meditation, therefore in my next post I will write about this practice, so stay tuned.
In the meantime...
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