Q: I don’t see how I can be free now. As it happens, I am extremely unhappy with my life at the moment. This is a fact and I would be deluding myself if I tried to convince myself that all is well when it definitely isn’t. To me, the present moment is very unhappy – it is not liberating at all. What keeps me going is the hope or possibility of some improvement in the future.
A: You think that your attention is in the present moment when it’s actually taken up completely by time. You cannot be both unhappy and fully present in the Now.
What you refer to as your ‘life’ should more accurately be called your ‘life situation’. It is psychological time : past and future. Certain things in the past didn’t go the way you wanted them to go. You are still resisting what happened in the past and now you are resisting what is. Hope is what keeps you going, but hope keeps you focussed on the future. This continued focus perpetuates your denial of the Now and therefore your unhappiness.
Q: It is true that my present life situation is the result of things that happened in the past, but it is still my present situation, and being stuck in it what makes me unhappy.
A: Forget about your life situation for a while and pay attention to your life.
Q: What is the difference?
A: Your life situation exists in time.
Your life exists now.
Your life situation is mind-stuff.
Your life is real.
Find the “narrow gate that leads to life.” It is called Now.
Narrow your life down to this moment. Your life situation may be full of problems – most life situations are – but find out if you have any problem at this moment. Not tomorrow or in 10 minutes, but now. Do you have a problem now?
When you are full of problems there is no room for anything new to enter, no room for a solution. So, whenever you can, make some room, create some space, so that you find the life underneath your life situation.
Use your senses fully. Be where you are. Look around. Just look, don’t interpret. See the light, shapes, colours, textures. Be aware of the silent presence of each thing. Be aware of the space that allows everything to be. Listen to the sounds: don’t judge them. Listen to the silence underneath the sounds. Touch something – anything – feel and acknowledge its Being. Observe the rhythm of your breathing : feel the air flowing in and out, feel the life energy in your body. Allow everything to be – within and without. Allow the ‘isness’ of all things. Move deeply into the Now.
-An excerpt from “The Power of Now’ by Eckhart Tolle