Monday, May 25, 2009

Being Present

I’ve always had difficulty with the concept of being in the present, not because I like to be in the past or the future, but because I don’t know where to put the past, if I am fully immersed in the present. Do I forget about the past? Do I ignore my concern about the future? So, when I meditated, I just focused on breathing and avoided thinking about the past or the future. I thought that was what it was all about. Today, I have a better understanding of what it means to be fully present. Being fully present and in the moment is bringing your whole self into this moment. Your whole self consists of your past and your potential future. Accepting, and embracing your past without any judgment helps and makes this state that much more easily attainable.

It was Memorial Day here in the U.S. and we had the privilege to get together with a few friends from our graduate school days, who we hadn’t seen in a long time. Memorial Day was put in place to remember casualties of war and over time has become a tradition to get together with family and friends over barbecues enjoying the last Monday in the month of May. In our celebration we talked about how much our kids had grown since the last time we had met, we exchanged notes on events from the past before we had kids, etc. In this little gathering, there were also people we had not met before, friends of our friends. So it wasn’t just a time to reminisce, it was time to be present. It was a very special evening, because we were exchanging notes on our transitions, new friends and old. We were openly talking about our presumptions about life from the perspective of being in our twenties and then our thirties, and so on. Reviewing life together and being able to smile about it, even though, some of it was not pleasant. We talked about losing parents, taking care of elderly parents, changing jobs, changing careers, vacations, new hobbies, etc. It was wonderful to look back , not examine, just look back from the perspective of the present. Our boys, teenagers, with their newly developed deep voices in the background playing, talking, etc. reminding us of the time and place we were in. Our own bodies, older, rounder, shorter, yet more comfortable and wiser than what we used to be, not battling time, just flowing with it into the present. My experience can be summed up in what Eckhart Tolle said: “Your entire life journey ultimately consists of the step you are taking at this moment. There is always only this one step, and so you give it your fullest attention.”

Last weekend, was special not just because it was great to be with old friends, it was so, also because we were fully attentive and in the present, yet aware of the past. This is yet another gift of spending time with old friends, the gift of bringing the past into the present and expanding ourselves together even further. I am so thrilled that I finally have a deeper understanding of the concept of being present and know what to do with the past and all the potentials that are yet to come. I think my meditation practice will go a little smoother now…


positively present said...

It's so unbelievably hard for me to be present. I am always being drawn back to my thoughts about the past or my worries about the future, but when I do find a moment or two that I am truly living in the moment, I am filled with such happiness. I think that being present is a habit and we have to work on developing it. It's definitely hard work, but it's so worth it!

Sherry Bakhtian said...

I completely agree and I do believe that when we come from total self-acceptance and self-love, it is easier. Thanks for your comment!