Being Present

By Deborah Ooten- December 2008

Being present to ourselves, others and God is often difficult to do. Being present requires that we meet each and every event, situation, feeling, thought, and behavior in the present moment. It is important to realize that the past and the future really do not exist; all that exists is the present moment. Life exists only in the present moment and if you are not in that moment then life will pass you by.

 When we focus our attention on the past we usually find ourselves feeling depressed, remorseful, regretful, sorrowful, and many other of the darker emotions. We tend to see what went wrong and how we were wronged or hurt. We also look at what we have done to hurt or wrong others.  It is important not only to learn from the past, but also to recognize that we can do nothing to correct or change the past. We must accept what has come before this present moment and somehow use it to better what is here NOW.

 When our attention is focused on the future we tend to be more anxious and less rested in the present moment. We tend to project our fears, concerns, future plans and possibilities into what doesn’t exist and may never exist.

We may be afraid of not meeting debts and obligations; afraid that someone will betray us; worried that someone we love might abandon us or die. Our fears are usually never about positive outcomes.

  Some teachings tell us that all that really exists is LOVE or FEAR and that these are “states of being”, not emotions. Love is often equated with the light, illumination, higher consciousness or God. Fear is usually associated with the dark, or lesser conscious state. It is important to remember that I am talking about states of consciousness, not feelings or emotions. A good resource for this way of thinking about spirituality is The Course in Miracles. The Course is a book that helps us to understand what stands in the way of our reaching higher consciousness or the God-self and actually teaches us ways to practice greater consciousness.

 All we truly have is the present moment. It is true that tomorrow is never promised and we may not live to see the next day. So, because of this sense of impermanence that we all share, it is vital that we look to each and every moment with new or fresh eyes. The important thing to remember is that we are here to create consciousness and awareness for ourselves and others. Each day can be approached as if it is a new day, a new beginning, no past or future with which to concern ourselves. So an awareness practice that you can begin to institute right now is: to awaken to each day renewed, letting go of the past and not anticipating the future. Live fully in the present, as if this is the first day of the rest of your life. Be willing to take risks and show up in every relationship, job or interaction that you have, as a new person. It is possible to recreate yourself daily. We can recognize what works for us and what doesn’t and then begin to replace old habits of thoughts, feelings and behaviors with new, healthy, fresh ways of being. We can choose the state of being called LOVE and embrace each moment renewed and ready for whatever is placed in front of us. We need to remind ourselves that when FEAR shows up, it’s taking us out of the present moment.

 As we begin to make these changes in our lives we need to be prepared to accept that some people in our lives may begin to fade away. We are all afraid of change in some ways, so it is likely that people you know may resist the new YOU and the way you are approaching life. Be prepared to let what doesn’t work for you fall away so that you can “show up” new to each moment. I find it helpful to OBSERVE my patterns and then ask myself if these patterns are serving me or not. If the patterns work keep them; if not let them go. I believe that it is important to establish a meditation practice and to BREATHE into each moment. Remember that the breath is always in the present moment. One cannot save breaths, just like the Jews could not save manna as they traveled in the desert. Much like manna, the breath must be used only in the present moment.

Watch your patterns, breathe and choose the present moment, no past or future…just HERE NOW.

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