The first word in the Yoga Sutras of Patangali, written somewhere between 1,700 and 2,200 years ago, is ATHA!
The word NOW is simple, clear and focused. Authentic, vulnerable, courageous and accepting. (In case you were wondering what some of the other words dancing around in my head were!)
A way to live, NOW, in the moment, as Ram Dass so famously and simply put it.
All we have is NOW, this precise moment in time. We get to choose to be in it or to escape it. We can look forward in fear or backwards, ruminating about what can no longer be. Right here, right NOW, all is fine. In this moment I am lying on my couch composing this blog post, a cup of tea at my side. I have no complaints. I am fully myself, at peace and comfortable with my word, myself and what I am writing.
That will change, and I will be a hot mess and frustrated, sad, angry, lonely…..whatever. That is the inevitability of life, no? Change.
But guess what? in the next moment, the next NOW, it will change again. Hopefully that change will be by my choice to get into action, but maybe not. The only certainty is that it will change (and change and change) Each NOW is different, every morning a new arrival, as Rumi writes:
“This being human is a guest house.
Every morning a new arrival.
A joy, a depression, a meanness,
some momentary awareness comes
As an unexpected visitor.
Welcome and entertain them all!
Even if they’re a crowd of sorrows,
who violently sweep your house
empty of its furniture,
still treat each guest honorably.
He may be clearing you out
for some new delight.
The dark thought, the shame, the malice,
meet them at the door laughing,
and invite them in.
Be grateful for whoever comes,
because each has been sent
as a guide from beyond.”
Rilke also has something to say about how things change, and the need to allow ourselves to be in each moment:
“Let everything happen to you
Beauty and terror
Just keep going
No feeling is final”
So I intend to practice mindfulness in my New Year. To choose over and over again to be where my feet are. To pause and make decisions based on fact. To gather those facts and be willing to act on them. To not put off what needs to be done NOW (another iteration of the word that I am thinking about.). In each NOW I have an opportunity to be real and honest and act according to my values. I can choose to do the right thing even if it hurts. I can choose to do nothing, even if it hurts. I can gather in and I can let go. I can choose and choose again or choose differently, as each new NOW appears.
NOW will be my baseline, my anchor, my north star.
I will ask myself the hard questions before I act on anything. I will be braver and risk more, be vulnerable and open my heart to the world, because if something doesn’t work out NOW, maybe it will next time. Or maybe not, but NOW I know I have to not be afraid to try because it can all change in an instant anyway.
“We have to dare to be ourselves, however frightening or strange that self may prove to be.”
― May Sarton
Live in the NOW. Live today. Live as if its your last day…..we hear this all the time. What if I did it? That is my exploration for this year 2017.
(Very wise words from Starsky, eh?)
I am afraid of this year, I truly am. I am afraid for myself and others. I am afraid for what will be in the coming years. And I keep leaping to that fear and speculation, which does me, nor anyone, any good. I know I will need a strong, guiding force to help me and keep me grounded, present. I know I will need to act and be of service and do things I won’t want to do. NOW will help me to not procrastinate, to act with urgency. NOW will help me relax in the times when I won’t have to act. NOW will help me stay sane and keep swimming through whatever life brings. With so much uncertainty I need something to hold onto, and what better than right NOW, this moment. This very breath, as David Whyte so beautifully writes:
“Enough. These few words are enough.
If not these words, this breath.
If not this breath, this sitting here.
This opening to the life
We have refused
Again and again
This will be a year of meditation, yoga, service, taking care of business and issues that have needed attention for a long while. I will do all of those things I have put off NOW, NOW. I will listen deeply and pay better attention to my life, every moment. And I will pay better attention to the lives of those around me, remove myself from my bubble at every opportunity.
“Instructions for living a life.
Tell about it.”
― Mary Oliver
“Zen pretty much comes down to three things — everything changes; everything is connected; pay attention.”
― Jane Hirshfield
And I will not be afraid to live authentically, with gratitude and grace, with my feet firmly planted here and NOW.
“May I have the courage today to live the life I would love ….to postpone my dream no longer. But do at last what I came here for and waste my heart on fear no more.”
_ John O’Donohue
“The great gift of a spiritual path is coming to trust that you can find a way to true refuge. You realize that you can start right where you are, in the midst of your life, and find peace in any circumstance. Even at those moments when the ground shakes terribly beneath you—when there’s a loss that will alter your life forever—you can still trust that you will find your way home. This is possible because you’ve touched the timeless love and awareness that are intrinsic to who you are.”
― Tara Brach
I want to leave you with two offerings.
First is this beautiful meditation from Thich Nhat Hahn, one of my favorite teachers and the author of the “Present moment, wonderful moment” image above. Here his meditation is set to some lovely music by Monique Rhodes. I have used this as a base for a yoga class, focussing on each breathe and ending in savasana with this playing.
And this link to a transcript of a talk given by Brian Eno in 1995, which I think is incredibly prescient. He has a visionary’s perspective on the idea of here and now that is really applicable and meaningful to one way that I hope to live my word, with the idea of the LONG NOW always there in every moment of the present NOW.
’Namaste friends! I hope all of our words move us forward in 2017 and continue to shine and lead as our past years words have.
MY words : YES, ENOUGH, OPEN, FREE, CURIOUS, and TRUST.
NOW begins the practice….