Have you ever noticed the amount of time you spend thinking about the past or worrying about the future?
How much time do you spend in the present moment? Do you take notice of the flowers that grow along the streets as you walk to work?
Do you look up at the buildings and architecture that surround you? Do you experience life as it is NOW? Or are you always in your head?
I made a point recently of sitting on a bench in the park after my run and ‘being’ present to all the nature around me. I didn’t just look at the scene before me, I was completely at one with the scene. So present was I that I felt nature’s energy around me and as a result felt a deep sense of inner peace.
Nature doesn’t worry about yesterday or what’s going to happen tomorrow. It is completely present, which is often why we find it so powerful when we connect with it. So overwhelmed can we become by the beauty of a landscape or a sunset, that for a moment, the mind is completely quiet and we are in ‘no mind’. We have accessed the power of now.
Yet as humans we have become so conditioned to think that we will be happy, complete, successful, calm, whole, uplifted, confident, and fulfilled WHEN…….meaning we are always chasing the future and not accessing the power of the present moment.
Are you always trying to get somewhere other than where you are? Do you believe that if you acquire a new job car, money or other material goods you will feel complete, good enough or fulfilled? Are you waiting for another man or woman to give meaning to your life?
What if you could feel happy, peaceful, blissful and at peace NOW?
You may well be thinking that the future will be better when you have those things because the present is unsatisfying you. But as Eckhart Tolle explains in his book ‘The Power of Now’, the future is usually a replica of the past. Superficial changes have been made which create an illusion it is different, but it’s the same old story getting played out time and after time. Real transformation depends upon whether you can become present enough to dissolve the past by accessing the power of the Now.
You may be growing up and moving through life and swapping and changing jobs or partners or having children, but where is your mind? If your mind carries a heavy burden of the past, you will experience more of the same in the future.
If you are completely conscious in the Now, then the mind is one of ‘no mind’. It is not thinking, instead you are simply ‘being’. You are not focused on the past and you are not thinking about the future. In the Now, there are no negative emotions or problems because to be truly present is to simply ‘be’.
This is not to suggest you never want to make plans for the future or set goals, but in the process don’t forget to notice life around you NOW as it is unfolding moment by moment.
How to access the Power of Now
A good place to practice accessing the power of now is outside in nature. You don’t have to sit on top of a mountain to do this, the local park will suffice!
Start by placing your focus of attention on whatever you are looking at. Don’t ‘think’ about what you are looking at, just simply ‘be’ with what you are looking at. For example, if you are looking at a tree, don’t think ‘I’m looking at this tree and it’s green and has birds in it’. You can observe the tree and how it looks, but without the need to ‘think’ about what you are seeing.
If you can’t get out into nature, use your body instead by placing your focus of attention inside your body and noticing how it feels. Again you can be the observer of how your body feels without any need for a running commentary of what you are observing.
If you have never practised this before or have never meditated, you may find you can only do this for a few seconds before the mind butts in. The mind is like a puppy, it needs training! If the mind interrupts you, just acknowledge the thought and take your focus back to what you were observing. You may have to do this several times before you become more focused and present.
Most of us have spent a lifetime living in our heads and not being fully present, so don’t get frustrated if thoughts keep zooming around your head. Just know it will take a little practice.
You are not trying to ‘quieten’ the mind, you are accessing the place of ‘no mind’. When you are fully present and in the moment, there are no thoughts, just a stillness. The more you practice accessing this state you will also access a feeling of inner peace and calmness.
A state of mind that millions of us try to reach by other means when all we have to be is present.
Sara Maude is an Edinburgh Hypnotherapist, Solution-Focused Psychotherapist, EFT Practitioner, Transformational Coach and International Wellbeing Trainer providing in-person and online sessions. Sara provides problem-free therapy which goes deep into the heart of the unconscious mind to create powerful lasting change.