Our society has an unhealthy obsession with the past and the future. You are probably familiar with that. Lots of people looking backward nostalgically to times that never were, or looking forward to improvements yet to come.
Personally, we tend to mirror this practice. We look back to our past actions, and examine our victories and failings along the way; or we look ahead, hoping to create better for ourselves and see improvements over the past.
What many people tend to ignore, however, is the here-and-now. Right here, right now, they only time that is completely real, and that truly matters. As Lao Tzu said, “Time is a created thing. To say ‘I don’t have time,’ is like saying, ‘I don’t want to.” Albert Einstein said, “Time and space are modes by which we think and not conditions in which we live.”
We cannot undo the past, nor can we predict the future. Further, we can only influence and control our own thoughts, feelings, and actions. You and I are only truly mindful of our thoughts and feelings right here, right now.
Why does now matter? Because now is the only time that is truly real. Quoting Einstein again:
“The only reason for time is so that everything doesn’t happen at once.”
Separating the now from time
Striving for greater mindfulness can be really challenging. Why? Because there are so many things going on around us that capture and distract our attention.
It is important to be aware of the world at large. We do not exist in bubbles where we are alone. There are people we know and do not know with whom we interact daily. Being aware of what is going on can impact those interactions in any number of ways.
Apart from interaction with others, you and I have little influence and no control over other people. It can certainly seem like some people assert more influence and control than others, but that’s part of the illusion of power. Nobody but you is in your head; ergo you are the only one responsible for how and what you think and feel.
Being in the now is not about time. Not really. The now is this moment. Currently, as you read this and take in these words, you are present in this moment. There is no time in this moment, in that you are completely present absorbing these words.
How does this work? Because time is an illusion. Each and every one of us has a unique perception of the world we exist within. This is based on our life experiences, upbringing, environment, and how we think and feel inside our own heads. Time, as such, is a matter of individual perception.
Perception of time
Ever notice how something you really do not desire to be doing can feel like it is taking forever, whereas something which you do desire to do passes quickly? Have you ever taken a test, and felt like time dragged on and on; meanwhile, when you get deeply immersed into an interesting project or game time flies, and far more passes than you realized? That is perception of time in action.
The past has passed. What is done is done. You cannot go back and undo it, or redo it. All you can do is take a new action and move on. On the other side of the same coin, you can plan for the future, but worrying about potential outcomes and reactions is pointless. The future is not yet written, and on top of that, you can do nothing to control the thoughts, feelings, and actions of anyone but yourself.
In the now, this moment of time, you can be aware of your own thoughts and feelings. When you practice mindfulness, you gain insight into how and what you think and feel. That insight, in turn, can impact the actions you take, because you get to decide what to choose.
That is why now matters. Because the only true reality is that which you are experiencing here and NOW.
Memories of the past can be altered by individual perceptions. By the same token, desires for the future are colored by what you perceive. As such, only here and now, this moment, is really real. Only the now is where change can be created and acted upon.
The future is born in the now
Right here and now is where you can create your future. Consciousness creates reality. Ergo, if you see something always ahead of you, in the future, it tends to stay in the future. Feeling what it will feel like in that future, but in the now, is how we can consciously manifest it.
Even if you find this concept unconventional and tough to swallow, would you rather believe that you are a product of your past and a pawn of fate in the future? You are not unless you choose to allow yourself to be. Decide not to decide, just let life live you, and indeed this is what you will create…subconsciously, with little to no feeling of control.
Decide here and now to ask yourself the questions that will bring you into this moment. These questions include:
· What am I thinking?
· How do I feel?
· What am I feeling?
· What am I doing?
Answering any of these questions, and others like them, puts you in the here-and-now.
In conclusion, remember this — you are worthy and deserving of an exceptional life. You are not here to just survive but to thrive. No matter what you may have thought along the way, no matter your past, you are worthy and you do deserve this.
Why does now matter? Because now is where opportunity to leave behind the past and design better can help you to create an amazing future.