I am now

Over my three plus decades on this planet, I have learned the unproductive behavior pattern of worrying about all that might go wrong in a given situation. I have become an expert in what a friend has referred to as “industrial grade worrying.” This is to say that I worry about emotions I might experience, mostly those with a negative persuasion like anger, pain, and suffering of many varieties.

 

It’s funny, actually. As I am writing this, I realize that I very rarely feel concern over the intense joy or freedom I might experience at any future moment. I also rarely imagine myself in the thrall of these positive emotions.

 

There is a saying, you are what you eat. Well, I think the same goes for feelings and worries. I am what I feel. I can create a reality from my own anxieties. I make them real by virtue of engaging with them. If I can take a step back and recognize that they are not real, they lose their power over me.

 

Eckhart Tolle suggests paying close attention to what is happening in the mind without identifying with what is witnessed, suggesting that we observe our thoughts without judgment and as “a witnessing presence.” In so doing, we can create awareness, acceptance, and freedom.

 

According to Tolle,

 

“..when you listen to a thought, you are aware not only of the thought but also of yourself as the witness of the thought. A new dimension of consciousness has come in. As you listen to the thought, you feel a conscious presence your deeper self behind or underneath the thought, as it were. The thought then loses its power over you and quickly subsides, because you are no longer energizing the mind through identification with it. This is the beginning of the end of involuntary and compulsive thinking.”

 

“The beginning of freedom is the realization that you are not the possessing entity the thinker. Knowing this enables you to observe the entity. The moment you start watching the thinker, a higher level of consciousness becomes activated. You then begin to realize that there is a vast realm of intelligence beyond thought, that thought is only a tiny aspect of that intelligence. You also realize that all the things that truly matter beauty, love, creativity, joy, inner peace arise from beyond the mind. You begin to awaken.”

 

Tolle further suggests that what he refers to as The Power of Now (also the title of the book I am quoting) is learning to live in the present moment rather than from a place of past or future.

 

We can learn to live in the present by letting go of our ego, which Tolle describes as “a false self, created by unconscious identification with the mind.”

 

For the ego, “Only past and future are considered important.” The ego’s focus on the past can create a kind of identity for an individual. In other words, we are the culmination of all that has happened to us in our lives. When the ego focuses on the future, we engage in the notion that “One day, when this, that, or the other happens, I am going to be okay, happy, at peace.”

 

So much of 2017 has seen me hoping for a time when my trouble from Alaska will be something of the past. What I wouldn’t give to never have to think about Alaska again. My husband suggested that I meditate on this future time because it will come to pass. Meditating on a time of freedom from Alaska is different than creating suffering in the present over Alaska’s hold over me in the present. I can meditate and know that this too shall pass without being overrun by frustration and agitation in the present.

 

Another friend suggested that I envision myself free from my Alaska troubles. Feel how it feels to be free. Draw this feeling into my innermost being, and it will be so.

 

While I recognize that I have been shaped by my life experiences, I also believe that I decide each day how I will exist in the present moment. I am both a culmination of these experiences and wiser from all that I have learned from them. I am not a victim but empowered and aware. In the words of Lewis Carroll, It’s no use to go back to yesterday because I was a different person then. Or if you prefer Bob Dylan, “Ah, but I was so much older then, I’m younger than that now.”

 

My husband also suggests to me on a regular basis, don’t borrow troubles. This is an expression that I had not heard until I met him, and it is a particularly poignant and relevant one for the thought patterns that have become very engrained in my own mind.

 

In response to my husband’s suggestion (along with just about every article, book, podcast, etc. that I have studied on Buddhism, meditation, yoga, etc.), I now try to recognize when I am “borrowing troubles.” In recognizing the behavior, I am often able to reduce its power over me. When I notice a concern arising over a future event (one that may never even come to pass), I repeat the phrase, “Don’t borrow troubles” and let it fall away. Inevitably, the thought returns at different times throughout the day, but each time I am able to send it on its way with more ease.

 

Tolle offers a similar practice for awareness and ultimate freedom from the mind:

 

“Make it a habit to ask yourself, ‘What’s going on inside me at this moment?’ That question will point you in the right direction. But don’t analyze, just watch. Focus your attention within…. It is the doorway into Being.”

 

Perhaps, I could create my own mantra: I am not my mind. I am being. I am presence. I am now. I am what I am. I am. I am. I am. Sure, it sounds a bit Popeye/Dr. Seus, but what’s wrong with that?

 

Popeye has said, I am what I am, and that is all I am.

 

Dr. Seuss has written, I am Sam. Sam I am.

 

The yogi says, I am what I am, and I am infinite, divine, grace.

 

My cat says, I am what I am, and I am hungry.

 

The yogi says, I am what I am, and I am infinite, divine, grace.

 

My cat says, I am what I am, and I am hungry.

 

It is all the practice of being, and I will continue to practice being who I am and who I wish to be.

 

I will also continue to Tolle’s recommendations for the practice of now:

 

“Make the Now the primary focus of your life. Whereas before you dwelt in time and paid brief visits to the Now, have your dwelling place in the Now and pay brief visits to past and future when required to deal with the practical aspects of your life situation. Always say “yes” to the present moment…. Surrender to what is. Say “yes” to life, and see how life suddenly starts working for you rather than against you.”

 

As my yoga teacher, Jaye Martin, asked us: What time is it?

Now!

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