“If you are being present, there is never any need for you to wait for anything.” —Eckhart Tolle, The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment
The temperature outside dipped far lower than you enjoy, but no mind, you bundle up as necessary and head out for your walk, telling yourself, that upon returning, a cup of chocolat chaud will be made and savored. (explore the benefits of time with Mother Nature here in this post)
A person you are having a conversation with begins to vent and express negativity about a situation in their work life. As you love this person, but are aware of how this energy makes you uneasy, you stop the conversation and with kindness express that while you are observing great pain on their part, that pain is now being passed on to you, and it is not constructive for either. You then suggest and model a conversation topic that is forward focused and enables the past that was causing pain to be let go so you can be in the moment with someone you enjoy being with and they you as they trust you. (learn more about setting healthy boundaries here)
As a member of a group (large or small, personal or professional), you are ill at ease when you gather, how events unfold or are organized, etc. Something significant, either the leadership, the tone, the objectives, the culture of the group is no longer a place you want to be a part of, and perhaps you have in the past tried to change these aspects by directly suggesting or modeling, still the norm that causes you unease persists. Maintaining your integrity, you realize you will step down and no longer participate or be a part of this group. (learn more about letting go of unhealthy people and practices here in this post, focus on #1 specifically)
Accept, Change, or Remove yourself
Each of the three scenarios above shares an example of being Present in the Now when an unwanted situation is taking place, and each shares one of the three options you have to engage with it constructively which is made available because you are fully present in that moment. (1)Accept, (2) Change, or (3) Remove yourself
I share with you unwanted moments first because while yes, life will include such moments, the good and exciting news is that if you begin to live your life fully in the Present moment, you will have more wanted moments to savor and more joy to delight in. Why?
The first post of the 13th season of TSLL blog shared exactly how this works (see below), and essentially it comes down to making better decisions because you are more aware of yourself as well as the world around you.
The moment you consciously realize you not in the present moment – you are daydreaming about a past evening, longing for a future event, worrying about a future event, dwelling about a past event, etc. – I have good news for you! – You are actually showing constructive growth when it comes to holding yourself in the present moment. Why? Because you became aware that you were not in the Present.
“To know that you are not present is a great success: That knowing is Presence—even if initially it only lasts for a couple of seconds of clock time before it is lost again. Then, with increasing frequency, you choose to have the focus of your consciousness in the present moment rather than in the past or future.” —Eckhart Tolle
How do we live unconsciously, thereby removing ourselves from the Present and thus ‘wait’ on the sidelines of life instead of actively living it? When we express outwardly or merely to ourselves in our thoughts the following behaviors or thoughts shared in the list below, we are not accepting the present moment, and are thus waiting to live which pulls away from, as Tolle describes it, our Being, and our ability to reach any taste of enlightenment and pure joy in our everydays.
- Complaining about the weather
- expressing frustration about the actions of other people, pets, wildlife in the garden, Mother Nature’s choice of weather (I share this twice because it at first seems a benign complaint, but . . . it is an ideal example of not accepting what is and that we have no control over)
- Longing for a particular outcome to occur – find ‘your other half’, graduation, retirement, buy a house, learn a particular skill, have children, etc.
- dwelling (what if . . . ? scenarios, berating yourself, questioning past decisions, analyzing to death a situation that has already happened, etc.)
- Worrying (any future outcome)
- waiting for the children grow up before . . . [fill in the blank]
- Diding time until a particular date or time arrives – your vacation, your birthday, a new year, Friday afternoon, etc.
- waiting until you have ‘x’ amount of money
- Dreading the holidays, or a particular holiday
- waiting to be a ‘success’
- Becoming frustrated with fellow drivers on the road
- while working toward a goal (which is a fine thing to do), looking and continually thinking about the end result and not the current step of where you are along the journey
Choosing to not wait in any of the above scenarios does not mean, for example, you should ‘take the leap’ and spend what you don’t have or become a Pollyanna void of sincerity, rather, you will bring yourself much more peace when you simply accept the Now as it is.
As shared at the top of today’s post, if something in the Present moment is not what you enjoy or is causing unease, you have three constructive options: (1) If you don’t like it and can change it, do so. (2) If you can’t change it (i.e. the weather), adapt how you work with it instead of fighting it, and if you cannot do either of the two aforementioned approaches, (3) accept it in that moment, and moving forward in your next step (which is the only step you need give your attention to), choose a choice that builds or nurtures what brings contentment into your life. If you opt not to choose any of these three, you actually are bringing unnecessary stress into your life and causing suffering to be a part of your days, a suffering that is completely avoidable.
“Stressed is caused by being ‘here’ but wanting to be ‘there’ or being in the present but wanting to be in the future.”
In episode #327, we talk about refraining from ‘throwing the second dart’, an action that is wholly in our control and upon throwing that second dart we make the situation of what already is even more frustrating, more stressful and absolutely avoidable. Each of the above items on the list is an example of throwing the ‘second dart’ and taking ourselves out of the present moment making it near impossible to savor what is the Now.
The foundation of the quality of your life resides in how you engage with the present moment each day.
What does a life free from ‘waiting’ look like?
Eckhart Tolle is thoughtful to point out the difference between ‘small-scale waiting’ and ‘large-scale waiting’. However, while these two degrees of ‘waiting’ are different – small-scale would be waiting in a traffic jam or queuing to receive a vaccine or for the waiter to bring you your tab; large-scale would be waiting for your big raise to be given, for a proposal, to be able to travel to your dream destination, even to become enlightened – they can also involve the waiting that pulls us away from the Present moment. “Waiting is a state of mind. Basically, it means you want to the future; you don’t want the present.” And since the Present is only EVER going to be what we have, we are not actually living when we ‘wait’, and we cannot be living well, nor be living a life of true contentment.
The Simple Change that Will Make an Awesome Difference
Attend to how you live in the everyday moments, in the present moments of your life.
How you live in the Now will determine the quality of your life. If you live in the Now, you have already taken a ginormous step in the direction of enlightenment as Tolle teaches in his book The Power of Now. To deepen the quality of your life, focus on how you are living:
- Extend gratitude for what is right now in this Present moment
- Just be and enjoy being
- Whatever you do, “move, work, run —do it totally”
- Step fully into the ‘flow’ of what you are doing and “enjoy the high energy of that moment”
- Immediately “drop the negativity” to “to keep your inner space clear” so you can fully be Present
- Permit yourself to savor (not cling) to the simple beauty, luxuries, goodness, delights that are all around you in any given moment
- Spend time in nature and fully be in there – turn off the podcast, audio book, music – and take in the beauty, the amazing wonder that is Mother Nature – the floral, the fauna, take it all in. Do this regularly and you are strengthening your muscle of holding yourself in the Present moment.
You may be wondering, and in fact, one of the many questions Tolle directly answers in his book is, but my life isn’t as I would like it, things are not going well, etc., etc. and while I will encourage you to read his book as he addresses these questions in-depth repeatedly from a variety of perspectives, ultimately, when we complain, when we hold negativity or express it, we are denying the Now, making ourselves a victim and are no longer Present and therefore causing even more suffering, a suffering that is unnecessary, most directly to ourselves, but indirectly to those who take in that energy.
Why is it unnecessary suffering? Because even if a situation is not as you want it to be, when you accept it, you are taking responsibility for your life, and “action arising out of insight into what is required is more effective than action arising out of negativity.” In other words, you give yourself agency to make choices that will lead you well through where you are, and that only requires you to focus on the next step. No more. Just the next step. Oprah Winfrey, and she may have gained this wisdom from Eckhart Tolle as I know she holds him and his teachings in high regard, has shared the question she asks herself when making her way through a challenge is, “What is the next right move?”. Just another way of saying what Tolle teaches, focus on the next step, just the next step.
The beauty, the aha moments, the gifts from the universe, how you discover yourself, everything that can bring a deeper experience of living and bring you to a grounding state of true contentment and joy is found in the Present moment, but you have to be consciously aware of being in the Present moment and not let the culture that has been normalized to perpetually be in pursuit and therefore discontent, a feeling that never allows us to feel comfortable in the present moment, shame you into always being in a state of unrest. Simply put: Stop waiting.
The Buddha reminds, “The root of suffering is to be found in our constant wanting and craving.” The pursuit to acquire more, something different, something we think we need, something outside of ourselves, when if only we would instead go within, be patient as we unearth our inner purpose, that is where the lasting fulfillment resides that we seek. When we start to realize the Now is all we will ever have and where joy can be felt every day, being fully in the Now seems the only choice quality-of-life choice.
The Power of Now: A Guide to Spiritual Enlightenment (copyright 1999)
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