Living in the Present: Be Here Now


By Lorraine Iverson. So I'm laying here on the couch, stewing in my misery. I've got strep throat with accompanying headache and swollen glands. I'm pathetic, whiney and a little stinky. This invasion ruined my weekend and is now seeping into the work week. But I'm noticing there's a blessing in it - a pony under this pile of horse manure. I'm living completely in the here and now. This is a state of mind I have strived for most of my life. And, voila, I find it feeling like crap.

"Be here now" has been the mantra for millions for years - even before it became cool in the 60's. Now is really all we have but most of us focus on things that happened in the past - good or bad. Those thoughts run our minds along with what's going to happen in the future. I have studied, done workshops, meditated and chanted to get to "living in the now." Isn't it interesting that it really comes to me when I'm sick? Being sick, I didn't care that yesterday was a beautiful day or that I was missing a fabulous brunch. I just wanted to sleep (and moan). I have a huge pile of important stuff on my desk at the office. Don't care. I'm completely into my body and what it is experiencing now. I'm missing fun and important events all week - so what. I'm here now.

I'm especially aware of this is phenomenon because for the last few months I've been completely focused on the future. I'm having bilateral knee replacements in a couple weeks. (Yes, that's plural). I've been hobbling around on aching knees for quite a while, telling myself that as soon as I have my new ones I will go to the beach, ride my bike and stroll an art show. Instead of spending this pre-surgery down-time writing, organizing my spices or other sedentary chores, I've been waiting. Putting my life on hold.

How many of us do this all the time? As soon as you meet the right man. As soon as you get that job. As soon as you have a child. Am I ringing anyone's bells here? I used to have a company with about 15 young women working for me. A bunch of them decided to get married in one two year time frame. Business came to a grinding halt. They were all focused on their weddings. Sure, they went through the motions of their account work but they were distracted and often hysterical - typical wedding stuff. Typical living in the future.

Perhaps being willing to live in the now comes with age, although most older folks seem to spend their last years in memories of a better time. But I think, if we are conscious of our surroundings, we are more able to stop and appreciate a moment, a sunset, an embrace. Is that just because we have less of a future? I hope not. I'd like to chalk that up to more wisdom.

Through all my years of "Be Here Now" work, there are a few gems I've retained that help me to stay in the present moment:

  1. Meditation. Although I'm a squirrel-brain, I do manage to spend a few minutes everyday in something that resembles meditation. My past/future stuff still pops into my head but in this state I can pause, acknowledge it and release it. I can then go back to the silence of now. Sounds pretty woo-woo but it helps to quiet the noise.
  2. Journaling (aka writing stuff down). Often I find that the simple act of writing down the repetitive babble will stop it. Again, it's acknowledging the thought, then putting it on paper that allows you to kick that hamster off the wheel. If it's a future issue, put it on the calendar. If it's an old fear, then try...
  3. Forgiveness. There are many forgiveness exercises available. I would be happy to share mine with you if you want to contact me. There are workshops galore. But the bottom line is, if you can forgive whoever or whatever happened, you can release it and move on. You'll never forget it but forgiving takes the sting out of it. And you don't have to send anyone a letter. This process is just for you. You're the one in pain, not them.So you forgive the past, you let the future take care of itself and you spend some time in this very special moment. Just stop, close your eyes and be with it. It's amazing.

You can tell I've become quite reflective laying here in my flannel jams, popping Advil and Amoxicillin. Perhaps being sick is the universe's way of making me be still and present. And, it's working. But I'm making a deal with the universe. I will continue to try living in the here and now if it will just let me feel better and free me from this couch. I promise.