• January 20, 2017

    Where are you in time? Does it seem that your experience of time is more about the before and after of personal events, the past and future, and less about the now?

    The cliché is that we should live in the present. Does this mean that we lose the benefit of our experience and the lessons of history? Being in the present does not mean ignoring the past or not remembering it. It’s a question of placement. Being in the present is a beginning. Now, can you bring time past and time future into the present?

    There is a world of difference between re-entering the past and re-identifying with it, or bringing the past into the present to inform the present moment. Re-entering the past is a fantasy because the past that we remember is partial and subjective and its relevance to the present is easily lost. Bringing the past into the present integrates experience. What is relevant to the present is extracted and related to what is happening now, becoming part of the present. This understanding is consistent with how memory usually works; I do not remember the specifics of events so much as their impact on me afterward, upon reflection.

    It is very useful to notice where you are located in time. Events in our past or anticipated events in the future act as anchors for the attention, pulling us forward and back, out of the present. These attention-anchors create our orientation, unconsciously selecting what we see and relate to. If we continually inhabit time past and time future in our imagination, we become lost in time and the opportunities of immediate response in the present become extremely limited.

    Present time is the only time when anything happens. Please understand this.

    Experience becomes relevant, and not an escape, when I am oriented in the present. Can I anchor myself in the present and bring the content of other times to me? Attention on sensation can do this. Having a body locates me in the present. A vague notion or thought of my body image does not suffice. I need direct sensing.

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