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Living in the Here and Now by Kathryn Rosypal Life seems to fly by so quickly that we can barely keep

up with it. Perhaps this is because, instead of living every moment and spontaneously enjoying it, we spend our years looking forward to lifes big events and just existing in between, as if the routine, inbetween moments dont really count. In his lecture on True Wealth, Goswami Kriyananda of the Temple of Kriya Yoga in Chicago, Illinois, said, Life is this moment. He goes on to say that the essence of life and true wealth are experiencing peace and tranquility in the here and now. A simple truth but a challenging task. The truly aware person understands that life is only this moment. The now is all we have. It is our current moment of awareness, which includes neither the past nor the future. The now is a point in time where all possibilities exist. If we allow ourselves to constantly focus on the shadows of the past and the hopes of the future, our awareness continues to fluctuate from past to future, back and forth, again and again. These mental fluctuations steal from us the present moment - the here and now! When we pour our energy into remembering what has happened to us in the past, we are automatically energizing those memories. This causes the same occurrences to project into our future, thus our lives are going in circles - or spirals at best. Have you ever tried to go for five minutes without thinking of the past or the future? Its quite a challenge, just as stopping all thoughts is difficult for the novice meditator. But it can be done. The past offers us a sense of security that makes us feel like we have some control over our life. The future offers us hope in its promise of better results. But what we dont realize is that our mental fluctuations drain enormous energy from us both physically and mentally. Our life becomes a world of illusions filled with actions and reactions that take up much of our waking day. Were exhausted and dont know why. The problem is elusive and the answer lies in changing our point of focus to the here and now. However, this is not easily done. When we live mostly in the future, our goal is to change the world, to make it a better place in which to live, to make our mark on the world. Thus, when we begin living in the present, we feel humbled and disappointed because we

realize that neither God nor the Universe is counting on us to change anything except ourselves - everything is exactly as it is meant to be. When we live in the past, we dwell upon injustices done to us and mistakes committed by us. When we suddenly change to here and now thinking, we become frustrated because we realize that we cant change whats done and we cant change other people. Zen philosophy aptly expresses this simple truth as What is, is. So, all we have is the now. As Buddha learned, when he meditated beneath the tree of knowledge for twenty-nine days, the key to life is balance, just to be. The only way we can just be is to become rootednot just temporarily planted, but deeply rootedin the here and now. The first step in learning to be in the present moment is to become aware of how often our mental projections revert into the past and the future. This is done through the Observer Technique. We can image a part of our consciousness standing about eighteen inches above and behind our right shoulder. This is the Observer - a totally nonjudgmental part of our self that watches what we think about as we go through our normal day. It is totally nonjudgmental. It is not allowed to praise not criticize - it just quietly observes us as an objective stranger would. The only comment the Observer is allowed to make is: Isnt that interesting for its job is just to observe our thoughts. At the end of each day, we can sit down with a tablet or journal and write in it what the Observed saw. What percentage of our day was spent in thoughts of the past? What percentage was spent in the future? Did we spend most of our time fluctuating between past and future? Was any time spent with our total focus in the present? If so, how did it feel? This journaling - reviewing our day for the purpose of learning from it, and writing down our observations before going to sleep - is very important is helping us to change our thinking. It keeps track of our progress and acts as a simple reminder every night that we choose to live in the present moment. Our mind then holds this thought while we are falling asleep, which energizes the thought and brings increased focus to our goal during the next day. In this way, the Observer technique, combined with journaling, will enhance our ability to stay focused in the present. As we go about our day, whenever we notice our thinking straying to the past or the future, we can gently bringing our awareness back to the present by saying the Sanskrit

words, Neti, neti, neti. We use a Sanskrit word because Sanskrit is one of the three sacred languages of the world - a language used strictly for religious services - similar to the way only Latin was used in the Catholic church for religious services for centuries. It means I am not this thought, I am not that thought, I am not thought. If we use an English word, such as peace, it automatically conjures up pictures and associations from our past. For example, based upon my experience peace might conjure up a Volkswagen bus with a peace sign painted on it and hippies hanging out the windows waving their hands in the peace gesture. This would then make me think of the Viet Nam War and the soldiers I used to correspond with who were killed in action. This thought would make me wonder about the men who returned from the war and the train of thought would go a never-ending tangent. But I have no history with the Sanskrit word Neti. It does not conjure up any pictures or associations. This is why Sanskrit words can be powerful tools in helping us to focus our mind and change our thinking. In order to live in the present, we need to shift our awareness to understand that we can make use of no time except the present time - past and future do not exist in the now. They are not real. When we daydream about the future, we are wasting our present energy on unreality, we are wasting the current moment and setting up expectations for the future, which is not wise. Does this mean we cant make plans for the future? No, it just means we should plan plans, not results. Plan what we will do, but dont have expectations about how it will turn out. Enjoy the spontaneity of the current moment and let that determine how things will turn out. Live life in the here and now. Our concept of now can be this moment, hour or day. By living one hour at a time, or one day at a time, life becomes simpler and we retain more mental and physical energy which can be used right here and now to improve our life. Improving our life becomes easier, too, when we are rooted in the present because all we need to be concerned about is doing the next right thing, which automatically improves our future. A subtle change takes place and instead of feeling like we are striving to improve, we are actually improving one moment at a time. Living is the here and now will create a great degree of peace, serenity and tranquility in our life. Although the process of living in the present moment requires vigilance,

patience and constant self-awareness to achieve, it will give us with a feeling of contentment and sense of fulfillment that is well worth the challenge. The reason now is called the present is because it is a gift that we have been given by the Universe to do with what we will. It is also our gift to give to others. Let us use it wisely.