Yesterday when driving home from Pittsburgh I had an epiphany. One of those fleeting moments where everything becomes crystal clear and you find yourself clinging to the hope that the moment will never pass. Except in this epiphany, I was left with the realization that the moment never truly passes. It is us who leaves. I became more deeply acquainted with the beautiful, yet ever-elusive present moment.
To say the words “I became” surely implies that this is something that happened to me in past. We all think this way. In our minds, we think a lot about the past and the future. We run through all of the things that happened to us and our concerns about what is yet to happen. We prepare, plan, worry, contemplate, wonder, and did I mention worry? It is estimated that our brain can have up to 60,000 thoughts per day. I cannot help but wonder how many of them are useful and how many of them are just repeat thoughts that serve no other purpose than to keep us detached from the moment at hand. I too found myself in a broken record mindset.
For the life of me, I couldn’t tell you exactly what I was thinking about. I imagine that it wasn’t anything of any kind of importance. What I do remember clearly is that I was becoming increasingly anxious. I had allowed my mind to run amok and was paying a very high price for it, my peace of mind. It is those anxious moments when it feels hardest to bring yourself back. When we are having irritating thoughts, one might think that simply changing your thoughts to positive ones will solve everything. That may be true but that is not what happened. What happened was that I began to gain awareness of how my thoughts were taking me away from the moment. As a result, the drive was a blur and I was lost in a dream-like state of deep thoughts. It was in that realization that I heard in my mind, “All there is…is NOW.”
All there is…is NOW.
Instantly, my perceptions shifted. It was as if a blanket was covering my head and it had been lifted away so I could see the world around me. It was incredibly clear and expansive feeling. I can even recall my brain itself feeling lighter. I did my best to try not to think too much about what was happening, for fear that I would leave the moment. Yet, with each thought that knocked on my awareness, the clarity began to fade.
To say that this was my first experience of NOW would be a lie. I have read many books by Eckhart Tolle that talk about being in the present. In his books he gives strategies to be in a state, of what many call, Mindfulness. When I meditate, I always try to push away any thoughts to embrace the nothing that is everything. In my opinion, it is by far the most peaceful and joyful feeling you can ever experience. When I finish I even feel like I can breathe more deeply and think more clearly.
What made this experience different than the ones before was that I recognized on a deeper level that every single thing is happening NOW. Our minds tend to think in terms of time and while that is great for managing life events, to always think that way is to distract ourselves from truly experiencing life. The amazing thing is that nothing exists outside of the present moment. Everything is happening now. While our limited minds view the world as a linear progression, life itself is always happening now. The future and past are nothing more than thoughtforms in our mind. When we allow ourselves to realize this, we free ourselves from our mental concepts about life and experience life itself.
Nothing exists outside of the present moment.
For myself, I know living in the present moment is the most healing and joyous place to be. It is all that will we ever have. This experience helped me to realize it on a deeper level. Does this mean that I am now present in every instance of my life? I wish I could say yes, but I know that I still have much to learn. For NOW, all I can do is strive to clear my mind one moment at a time, and to remind myself that all there really is…is now.