In today’s world and where social media and communication reign, where love and money are often in conflict, where opportunity corrupts morals and intentions, it can be hard to hoist yourself into awareness of the present moment, where everything else melts away.
Instagram photos, motivation videos, highlight reels, “overnight” success stories, a global pandemic — while they’ve inspired a new generation of ambition and entrepreneurs, they also reveal the heart-aching possibility that maybe your life isn’t so important after all.
Too often, the beautiful moments of life can be drowned out by a cacophony of self-consciousness, worry, and anxiety.
Life, however, unfolds in the present.
Eckhart Tolle’s teachings are life changing. Once you truly grasp that everything is now, and you live consciously in this very moment, life suddenly becomes easier, better, and more fulfilling. Living fully in the present moment leads to a sense of higher consciousness and vibration.
Living in the moment—also called mindfulness—is a state of active, open, intentional attention on the present. Of course it takes practice to deflect any thoughts or emotions other than those of the present moment, but minding the moment is at the root of Buddhism, Taoism, and yoga as a way of life.
In fact, wanting to learn to savour the present is why Henry Thoreau went to Walden Pond: “I went to the woods because I wished to live deliberately, to front only the essential facts of life, and see if I could not learn what it had to teach, and not, when I came to die, discover that I had not lived.”
In her memoir Eat, Pray, Love, Elizabeth Gilbert writes about a friend who, whenever she sees a beautiful place, exclaims in a near panic, “It’s so beautiful here! I want to come back here someday!”
“It takes all my persuasive powers,” writes Gilbert, “to try to convince her that she is already here.”
Likewise, the philosophy behind the movie “Midnight in Paris” speaks about the nostalgia and special allure of the past. In the film, the main character, Gil, doesn’t just daydream about escaping the unsatisfying present to Paris in the 1920s—his place and time of choice. Picked up at the stroke of midnight by famous writers in an antique car, he actually travels there.
In spite of these nostalgia-filled trips, Woody Allen’s film is, in fact, a story about coping with the present. It was Gil’s journey through the past that helped him identify what was missing in his present and that gave him the courage to take steps to correct it. The story culminates when Gil ends his fantasy by acknowledging the past was not all golden and the future isn’t so bad. In the same conversation, Gil gives voice to the other important realization: the present is actually the most important place to be.
Eckhart Tolle is known worldwide for his teachings on spiritual enlightenment through the power of the present moment. “Realize deeply that the present moment is all you have. Make the Now the primary focus of your life.” The quality of your consciousness at this moment is what shapes the future—which, of course, can only be experienced as the now.
Often, and especially with what the world is currently experiencing, we’re so trapped in thoughts of the future or the past that we forget to experience and enjoy what’s happening right now: The pizza’s not as good as it was last week. I’m about to run out of something in my pantry. Last year this time, I’d been more focused. The list goes on.
And so my next goal this year has become to learn the art of appreciating the present moment more mindfully.
Recently I came across something really comforting that gave me the motivation I need. It said: “If you’re confused, that means that you’re actively searching for meaning in your life, so keep going.”
You won’t always have it all figured out, but walking in your purpose will help you get to a place of clarity, peace, and heightened self-confidence. Forgive yourself and those who have hurt you. Let go, read books, meet new people, watch documentaries, and, if it’s allowed, travel locally where you currently are. Do anything that will keep you curious about the present energies in your life—the ones that inspire you.
Cherish every fleeting moment. Be grateful for the time you get to spend with the people you love.
For life is precious and shorter than we realize at times, and the only way to survive it is to be here. Now.