In Eckhart Tolle’s words ‘The only thing that is ultimately real about your journey is the step that you are taking at this moment. That is all there ever is. There is no right moment in the future to get started. The moment is now.
The fabric of our society has built most people to either think about the past or the future. Our past thoughts are usually filled with regret and our future thoughts usually filled with anxiety. In this attention economy most news, advertising, notifications, messages, and alerts are placed around the future or the past. For example, an insurance advertisement will create the fear of losing someone and then give you a solution, a fairness cream will show that if you are dark-skinned how using a fairness cream will move you towards a future you want — one in which acceptance and admiration in the future could be yours if you go through with the purchase.
All great teachers in self-mastery focus on this essential understanding of ‘This Moment’. The past cannot be retrieved, the future is a construct. All that truly exists is this moment. All our ancient wisdom teaches us this, and then modern-day spiritual teachers and life coaches like Ekhart Tolle, Dr. Rick Hanson, and Dr. Srikumar Rao explain this to us in modern-day scientific language. When we are not present in the now is when we are either in the past or in the future and neither is helpful. Research says that on an average we spend more than half of the time in the past or in the future. Psychologists Matthew A. Killingsworth and Daniel T. Gilbert of Harvard University say that “A human mind is a wandering mind, and a wandering mind is an unhappy mind. The ability to think about what is not happening is a cognitive achievement that comes at an emotional cost.”
When I emphasise on the ‘Power of Now’, parents, teachers and students then question me on why I ask learners to set goals as goal setting is all about the future. The answer lies in what you are currently focusing on, in this moment, that moves you towards your goal.
If you focus on the end goal and keep working towards the goal without enjoying the process, you will gain temporary happiness when you meet the goal. There will be a sudden rush of dopamine and then it will be gone. However, when you set the goal and work towards the goal and focus on and enjoy the process of reaching there, this way can bring you a consistent feeling of happiness and achievement.
As the saying goes “The beauty of the journey is found not in the destination, but in the scenery along the way.”― Nina Bennett
Research shows that when we live in the past we spend a bulk of the time either reminiscing or regretting. If we spend it in the future we spend the bulk of our time planning or worrying. However, if we change our focus and enjoy the present moment we can choose to live more content and happier lives.
There is a need to change our behaviour as research shows that we think about sixty thousand thoughts each day, and about 80 percent of these thoughts are negative. Also that about 95 percent of the thoughts we think today are more or less the same ones that we thought yesterday, the day before, and the day before that. This means that if we don’t change our habitual way of thinking, we will be drenched in about forty-five thousand negative thoughts each and every day. Dr. Hanson explains it as ‘we have a Velcro for painful, harmful experiences and a Teflon for enjoyable useful ones.’ Our brains are hard-wired to look for the bad over the good as this is the way we survived from an evolutionary perspective.
We have the opportunity to talk to our children about these brain facts and teach them to train their minds to stay in ‘the now’.
7 Tips and techniques to stay in the NOW:
- Mindful Breathing
3. Active Listening
4. Accept and Release
5. Sensory Stimulation
6. Morning Visualization