I’m sitting in my comfy chair, the one I use for almost everything – from writing, to reading, to eating, to watching Netflix or Facebooking.
I close my eyes and breathe deeply. My hearing is heightened and I can hear the crackling of the oil radiator in the background. Thanks to the wonderful typewriting classes I had when I was at school in Caracas, I can do it with my eyes closed, which enables me to focus entirely on what I can feel and hear. The texture of the keyboard under my fingertips becomes perceivable for the very first time. I wonder what it would be like to be blind. I can already imagine the rest of my senses developing beyond the unimaginable. For some reason, it’s so much easier for me to be present with my eyes closed. Of course, this is because I’m writing and deeply concentrating so as not to make any mistakes… and I really am pretty good at it!
From Eckhart Tolle to Mindfulness, everything and everyone is constantly telling us to be in the NOW. And guess what? I find myself telling my clients about it too. Why is it so important to be in the Now? Well, for me, it’s the only real way to be present. We can only be present here and now. If we’re thinking about the past, we’re reviving something that no longer exists. We’re playing the story in our heads over and over again, trying to remember what happened, the words that were said, who did what, reviving the feelings we had at that particular moment in time. But what we were feeling then is not what we’re feeling right now. And when we project ourselves into the future and worry about what might happen, and wish to control the possible outcomes, we are opening the door to a life of anxiety. So what then is the whole point of yesterday and tomorrow?
I believe that the past is a place from which we can extract information that will help us to learn and to grow. I don’t even believe that the past actually defines us. Yes, it is true that we may feel that past experiences have made us the way we are now, but we can also change our perception of the past and therefore see ourselves in a completely different light. It’s all a question of interpretation. We often hold a grudge or feel resentment about something that happened long ago, but then, suddenly, some new experience may occur and cause us to reinterpret what we had previously considered to be hard facts. Also, just because we’ve done things in a certain way in the past does not mean we have to go on doing them in the same way today. I truly believe that we are different people every day. It’s just that we are trained to think we are not, that we are always exactly the same, that people do not change, that change is very difficult… And we forget to pay attention to how every single interaction in our lives has an effect on us, an effect that slightly changes the way we feel and see everything around us.
And what about tomorrow? Shouldn’t we think about the future? To plan and set our goals is very useful as it helps us to know what to do NOW with a view to getting to where we want to be. Projecting ourselves into the future and seeing where and how we want to live our lives is the only way to discover what steps we should now take in order to get there. However, constantly thinking about the future will prevent us from truly enjoying the present moment. How many times have you found yourself saying: “I just can’t wait for the weekend!” or “How I wish I was on holiday!” or “Just as well I’ll be retiring in a few years!” We tend to wish our lives away instead of learning how to enjoy whatever it is we’re doing right now. And we also tend to worry about what might or might not happen and want to have everything under control. This shifts our attention from the Now to the imaginary future and may cause a great deal of stress and anxiety.
Let me finish with a quote by Eckhart Tolle:
“Unease, anxiety, tension, worry – all forms of fear – are caused by too much future, and not enough presence. Guilt, regret, resentment, grievances, sadness, bitterness, and all forms of non-forgiveness are caused by too much past, and not enough presence.”