Hi friend. No doubt, these days are hard. 2020 has challenged everyone in unimaginable ways. How can we be present with so much stress?
Tell me—what’s going on for you right now?
I don’t mean in general, in your life—this week or month or year—but right now—at this exact moment in time?
What about this moment?
And this one?
Is there anything wrong in this moment, right now?
I’d guess no—or else you wouldn’t be reading this email.
If we are able to stop and ask ourselves that question, “what’s happening now?” most likely it means we’re okay.
This is the essence of mindfulness—being present, and aware of what is happening right now.
You have probably heard “mindfulness” as a buzz word in recent months or years, regarding meditation, or as a way to “lower anxiety” (or maybe you’ve mostly heard about it from my emails, as I am a huge fan)—regardless, it’s becoming popular. Unfortunately, people are mostly missing out on what it really has to offer, which is the present moment.
Most of the time, we’re trying to get somewhere other than here. For instance, we may be looking to the future to a time when coronavirus is over so we can get back to “normal.”
Our minds are wandering more often than they’re not—and it’s been shown that we’re less happy and satisfied when we’re not present. When we’re ruminating about or longing for the past, or anxious and worrying about the future—we aren’t able to be here now.
But now is really all we have.
The past has already happened—it’s gone. We can have thoughts about it, but really, there’s nothing to hold onto. The future hasn’t yet occurred; not only can we not predict what will happen, but we also can’t predict if it will happen—I mean, an asteroid could strike right now…
But you’re still here reading (thank goodness!).
It might be easy to think “it’s better to be lost in thought when things are so hard right now”—but the fact is, right now, things probably aren’t so bad.
Whatever feels hard stems from a thought about something that has already happened, or a worry about something that could happen.
And if there was something wrong right now, you would just stop reading this email and take care of it.
There’s a Buddhist parable about a man who gets pierced with a poison arrow and taken to a doctor. Would this guy who’s pierced tell the doctor—"no! Don’t treat me until you know who shot the arrow, what he looked like, how tall he was, what kind of bow it was, what kind of feathers were on the shaft, etc.?” Of course not! Asking all these questions would waste precious time and the man may die. What makes sense is not to worry about how it came to be this way (the past)—instead, just pull out the dang arrow!
But if we get caught up in thoughts about how the arrow got there, or what might happen later because of it, then we can’t think clearly enough now to do what needs to be done.
The Dalai Lama said “if a problem is fixable, if a situation is such that you can do something about it, then there is no need to worry. If it's not fixable, then there is no help in worrying. There is no benefit in worrying whatsoever.”
Being able to tune into the present moment makes space for clear seeing and thinking.
In this moment now, we can be responsive rather than reactive, so it’s our best opportunity for peace!
So yes, 2020 is hard. Many of you are going through terrible experiences with coronavirus and beyond, and I don’t blame anyone for wanting it to be over—but we always have this present moment to turn to. In fact, it’s all we have.
A moment at a time, we keep moving forward. But only to here. And now here.
Keep coming back to now—that’s mindfulness.
Everything is okay right now.
I’ll share some of my favorite ways to connect with the present moment soon. Reply to this email and let me know of any ways that work well for you—or share what’s a challenge!
Sending light and love,