Be here now!
We are all familiar with this spiritual exhortation. Most spiritual traditions and practices put great emphasis on being in the moment, and we have become so familiar with these words that many of us use them without stopping to think about their profound implications for our lives and our spiritual unfolding. So what does it really mean to ‘be here now’. What is the ‘here’ that we are supposed to be with in the ‘now’, whatever that is, and why is it so important to pay attention to our hereness and our nowness.
What is the “here”?
Our usual habit is to focus pretty much exclusively on our thoughts, actions and outer environment. We spend much of our time thinking and doing, not really noticing what is going on in the totality of our selves. While thinking and doing are indeed important components of our experience, when we stop to consider it, we can see that they are only the surface manifestations of an underlying consciousness that goes way deeper than these outer appearances.
So our hereness is actually much much bigger than our thoughts and actions. Taken to its logical extreme, it is everything that we are, the totality of our experience.
We start to see that “being here” means being present with the fullness of ourselves, from the inside to the outside, from the depth to the surface, from the inner spaciousness of Spirit to the busy clutter of everyday life. Thus to “be here” means that we are tracking the thread of our awareness as it follows whatever arises in our consciousness through every level that we have access to. It means that we do not cut off what is actually going on in our inner awareness, but allow it just as much space as we give to outer actions and events.
This awareness is both broad and focused at the same time, broad enough to access our whole field of consciousness, but focused enough to tune into specific manifestations, as it follows our experience of ourselves as we weave among all the aspects of our consciousness. It includes our physical sensations, our energies, our breath, our emotions, our reactions, our thoughts, our memories, our patterns, our Spirit and the meanings we’re giving to our experience. And so on through every kind and level of experiencing that we do.
So “being here” means that we are here with ourselves without preference, aware of both our inner and outer experience, our depth and our surface, allowing ourselves to be with whatever is coming to our attention.
What is the “now”?
A common human experience is to feel as though nothing is really changing, that this moment is much the same as previous moments. We feel stuck, bored and frustrated as we repeat the same old same old.
However, if we scratch the surface, we start to find that nothing ever repeats exactly the same way. At the very least, we are an individual having this “same” experience for the hundredth time rather than the ninety-ninth. We start to notice that, as human beings, there is always an inherent dynamism to our existence, and something, no matter how small, is always changing in our inner or outer worlds. Our conscious experience unfolds moment by moment by moment, each moment subtly different from the last. It is each of these moments that constitutes its own particular “now”. So the “now” is literally this very moment, as distinct from the last moment, or the next moment. From birth to death, our lives are an unending stream of moments of now, and each now is an unfolding of the now that preceded it, a unique drop in the flow of the stream of our conscious existence.
So being in the now with that constant flow of change means being with what we’re experiencing now – and again now – and again now, literally being with ourselves moment by moment by moment.
Being here now
Thus “being here now” is being with the totality of our consciousness right in this moment.
It brings in a whole other dimension to our usual everyday awareness as we actually notice where we are and include what’s happening in our deeper experience in the moment that it happens. So being here now means being willing to follow the thread of awareness as it moves freely through the depths and surface of our existence is every waking moment of our lives.
So why should we bother to “be here now”?
You may have noticed that when we’re on automatic, we seldom get insights or awarenesses about ourselves. We just run the same unconscious patterns and actions over and over again. However, when we make a conscious decision to actually look at what’s happening in the moment, then insight and meaning start to arise of their own volition.
We start to make sense of our experience, and understand better why we are what we are. Every insight and understanding removes some of the misunderstanding we’ve been living with, and brings us a little closer to our ultimate truth. Each tiny enlightenment brings us a fraction closer to the depths of our Spirit. It is as though our soul has been patiently waiting for us simply to pay attention, and when we do, it rewards us by bringing us ever closer to itself.
In time, the weight of understanding starts to have a significant effect, and we feel that we have become more real. We notice more presence, maturity and wisdom. We are less reactive, less on automatic. We are more objective, perceptive, relaxed and accepting. But most important, as are closer to the beauty, wonder and capacity of who we truly are, and more able to live from that depth.
For sixty years I have been forgetful in every moment, But not for a second has this flowing towards me stopped or slowed. – Rumi
With gratitude to A.H.Almaas, especially The Unfolding Now
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