The present moment is simple. It is as it is. But the noise-making mind, subdued with compulsive thinking cannot stand it, so it runs from it. It submerges itself in the story it creates around a situation.
You have planned a party for a few people and the weather starts changing. Before long, it starts to rain. What is happening right now? It is raining. If you can accept the reality that it is raining now, you do not create any problem. But like many people, your mind resists that it is raining. In this resistance, it creates a story, `This rain has ruined my day. It has finished me. No one will come to my party.` Is that so? Has the rain ruined your day? That rain is needed so that you can continue to thrive on planet Earth. If it does not rain for a long period, you will most likely pray for rain.
Now it is raining but instead of you to appreciate the rain, your ego has turned you to God who should dictate when it should rain and when it should not. How much more selfish can you get? You want to make yourself the centre of the world around which the world will revolve. The rain has not finished you. Instead of complaining about it, you have the opportunity to rest in a cool weather. How can that finish you? No one will come to my party.`
Some people may actually show up despite the rain but your mind is already doing what it knows how to do – catastrophizing – even though there is no problem in the present moment. But even if no one shows up, you still do not have a problem. You have the opportunity to share what you have prepared with your neighbours or the needy around you. Where there is an opportunity, all your mind sees is problem. What is the situation? It is raining. The situation is not the problem. The problem is the story your mind has created about the situation.
The story of your mind is a result of its resistance to what is. The mind believes that its resistance, which you experience as negativity or unhappiness in some form, will somehow dissolve the undesired situation. The mind is deluded. The resistance that it creates along with its negativity is what disturbs you, not the situation.
Let go of the story by surrendering to the situation. By surrender, I mean inner acceptance of what is. You accept what is and you do not hold internal reservations. If you have an illness and you say, `I surrender,` just for the sake of saying it, you have not surrendered. Resignation is not surrendered. Surrender naturally happens when you relinquish the internal war. Jesus surrendered at the garden of Gethsemane, `Not my will but your will be done.
It may look as if by surrendering you have been defeated but that is not so. One who surrenders, completely accepts what happens now, which is the form the present moment takes, without judgment or mental labeling. Thus he sees the situation as it is and sees clearly what action to take. This action which is in alignment with the present moment is in alignment with life. Thus, he flows with life. There is peace. Surrender, therefore, is perfectly compatible with action and there is strength in it, not weakness. Realize that resistance is futile and accept the present moment. If you do this, the peace that surpasses understanding will emerge in you. This peace did not come from without. It has been in you. Your resistance obscured you from experiencing it.
If you find yourself in a situation you do not want or desire, change the situation, If you cannot change the situation, leave the situation, If you can neither change nor leave the situation, surrender to the situation, and Dissolve the internal resistance by being present. Become aware of that which anchors you to the present moment which can be the energy field inside you, sense perceptions, or your breath. Can you feel the aliveness of your body? The sensation from your sense perceptions? Your surrounding? Your heartbeat? Your breath?, Be aware that you are sitting. Be aware that you are reading. Now, be aware of that you are aware of.
You are conscious. What is consciousness? Awareness without thought. You are that awareness. You are therefore not just conscious, you are consciousness, the space in which there is no thought. When you realize this, you will see that there is nothing that happens that diminishes you. You have ten million nairas in your account, you are who you are.
You are finding it difficult to pay your rent, you are still who you are, You work in a multinational company, you are who you are. You do not have a job, who you are is not diminished. Nothing can change who you are. If you are jobless, accept the joblessness in the present moment because it is what is. When you surrender, when you accept without internal resistance, something will emerge from deep within you. In resistance, you are trapped in pain but when you accept what is, you go beyond the situation, you transcend it. The step to be taken in order to improve the situation will emerge from within you. This step may not get you a job immediately but when you carry out the step, the next step will show up, and the next, on and on until you either have a job or start your own business. As you carry out each step, be present in the Now.
Let your Presence flow into what you do and what you do will have quality, it will be transformational. Do you want your action to have power? Be present when you carry out the action. The present moment, no matter the form it takes, is a friend, not an enemy. By being present, you are friendly with it. When you are friendly with it, it smiles at you. That smile is necessary to change your situation, the one you consider undesirable.
Wherever you are, be there. Life, through you, will take care of the situation you consider undesirable. So, surrender to what is now. You can practice stillness to help you live in the present moment.
Stillness is what some call meditation. Stillness is about staying present and going deeper in yourself. You are not trying to do, you are simply being. To be still, you can practice with present moment anchors like your breath. You are breathing now. Notice the gaps between the exhaling and inhaling cycles, the air going into your lungs, the movement of your belly, and so on, as much as you can. Because you are placing your awareness on what is happening right now, you propel yourself powerfully into the present moment. This simple exercise has the potential to help you go deeper within yourself, to help you be present.
Other present moment anchors are your sense perceptions and the energy field inside you, what you may call inner body. Feel the aliveness of your body by paying attention to the energy field in your hands, legs, neck, chest, and so on. You do not necessarily have to be still to be aware of present moment anchors. You can be aware of them while walking or doing chores. This will help you stay grounded in the present moment even when you are doing something. Ego gives way and you experience peace. At first, you may only be able to stay present for a short period of time but with practice, you will get to stay present longer. You realize when you are present that you are not your thoughts and you become the watcher of your thoughts, not the judge, just the watcher. You neither grasp your thoughts nor push them away.
Being friendly with the Now, being present has been shown to reduce stress, lower blood pressure, reduce chronic pain, boosts immune functioning – being present has benefits for your health. People who stay present display more joy and are more secure. Instead of reacting to perceived threats in a situation, and afterwards drown under the situation in anxiety, conscious people accept a situation, transcend it, and act to improve or change the situation. As a result, conscious people have more satisfying relationships with events and people. They are less aggressive and are more connected to other people.
Could you be present now? As you read this book, be aware that you are breathing. If you are aware that you are breathing now, you are present in this moment. Being present or still is not about getting somewhere. You are already there. It is therefore about being fully where you are already. Where else can you live but Now? Life offers us so many wonderful things we can enjoy but because we are often lost in thoughts – thoughts of the past or future – we fail to experience, let alone enjoy what is happening now. You may love the sight of nature. Look at the plants or trees, you feel this sense of calm. Before you know it, you have left the present moment.
Oh, I really wish I could come back here someday,` you say. You are where you love to be but because you are not present, you are back in your thought, wishing to come back some other day to where you presently are. This is how we often let the present moment escape from us and we hardly experience joy. You escape from the present moment and what do you find? Pain or worry. In that state, you end up having a toxic relationship with what is as well as with people.
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