Martinus Rørbye – Entrance to an Inn in the Praestegarden at Hillested Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“Settle in the here and now. Reach down into the centre where the world is not spinning and drink this holy peace.
Feel relief flood into every cell. Nothing to do. Nothing to be but what you are already. Nothing to receive but what flows effortlessly from the mystery into form.
Nothing to run from or run toward. Just this breath, Awareness knowing itself as embodiment. Just this breath, awareness waking up to truth.”
Staying in the here and now may have more meaning now, when the UK is largely in lockdown.
It may be more difficult to do, but perhaps it is extra relevant and important in these difficult times in all our lives.
What does it mean to stay in the here and now?
Being in the now involves awareness of what is happening inside the self.
It means allowing ourselves time to be meditative, to develop consciousness of our breathing, of any tension in the body, any thoughts and any feelings.
Staying in the moment means becoming aware of how we feel. This may be difficult at times. It is tempting to allow distractions, such as our mobile phones!
Staying in the here and now means we develop an awareness of what is happening around us. What do we see, hear, smell? Are we always too preoccupied to hear the sounds of life around us: the slow, persistent drip of melting snow, that dog barking incessantly in the distance, or the clock ticking?
Are we too busy to sit quietly, absorbing the gifts of the here and now?
“What day is it?” asked Pooh. “It’s today,” squeaked Piglet. “My favorite day,” said Pooh.” A.A. Milne
Living for now and in the present moment is an important aspect of Buddhist thought.
Can we value our lives, knowing that one day they will end? Can we appreciate even the small things, the most fleeting of moments, whilst being aware that such moments do not return? We will never recapture those precious moments. They are lost in time, as one day we ourselves will be.
David Hockney – Portrait of Sir David Webster Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
Staying with the present moment can mean that we will face reality and truth. We will begin to know ourselves and the world around us better.
It also means valuing our allotted time, moment by moment, and understanding that those periods in our lives that we may see as ordinary, boring or mundane, can in fact be interesting, perhaps quite remarkable.
“The butterfly counts not months but moments, and has time enough.” Rabindranath Tagore
If we look, we can find beauty in surprising places and in the randomness of unexpected moments.
“Living in the moment is learning how to live between the big moments. It is learning how to make the most of the in-betweens and having the audacity to make those moments just as exciting.” Morgan Harper Nichols
Edward Hopper – New York Interior [c.1921] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
The Difficulty Of Staying With The (sometimes mundane) Now.
HuskMitNavn – Take Me Away. Gandalf’s Gallery.
“What would it be like if I could accept life – accept this moment – exactly as it is?” Tara Brach
It is difficult to live in the now when time is dragging and life feels monotonous. This is especially relevant during the time of Coronavirus, when most of us are spending what feels like endless moments cocooned-or cooped up- in our homes.
“Even the dull moments that make you long to be elsewhere, will prepare you for where you want to be, and you will have gratitude when you arrive there.” Morgan Harper Nichols “Doing the best at this moment puts you in the best place for the next moment.” Oprah Winfrey
It is during these mundane times that we can try to use our imagination, to make plans for the future, to be creative, or to take some rest. “Every exceptional writer holds a Master of Arts in Daydreaming.” Richelle E. Goodrich
Involving ourselves in imaginative activity can help take us out of everyday worries; we can lose ourselves thinking of beautiful places we have been or exciting trips we might take in the future.
“If you fall in love with the imagination, you understand that it is a free spirit. It will go anywhere, and it can do anything.” Alice Walker
Psychotherapy And The Importance Of Staying In The Here And Now.
“Happiness, not in another place but this place…not for another hour, but this hour.” Walt Whitman
Living in the present is not easy. It is difficult to stay with the now, without allowing the mind to wander or (understandably) worry about the current situation or be distracted into the past or into an imagined future.
“Most humans are never fully present in the now, because unconsciously they believe that the next moment must be more important than this one. But then you miss your whole life, which is never not now.” Eckhart Tolle
If we are sitting in silence, it is important to remember that silent spaces can be so creative and productive, in our lives and in therapy.
In psychotherapy, as in everyday life, many times, people are afraid of silence. They feel uncomfortable waiting for something to emerge from within themselves, uneasy with staying in the moment.
The therapist can help the patient here by demonstrating a relaxed tolerance of the silent space and a valuing of the opportunity to ‘feel into’ what may be happening this very moment.
The therapist will wait without frustration for something to emerge, rather than rushing to fill the valuable reflective time with superficialities.
This is a way of being present for another person, and very much experiencing the present moment with them.
The state of mind needed for such encounters and the ‘not knowing’ state is described by several therapists, across the spectrum of therapeutic approaches.
For example, Gestalt Therapy emphasises the therapeutic value of staying with the ‘now,’ focussing on what is happening in the present moment.
“The ability to be in the present moment is a major component of mental wellness.” Abraham Maslow
Alexej von Jawlensky – Seated Woman [c.1909] Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
In the ‘here and now’ of the therapy room, the patient will inevitably relate to the therapist in ways that are a repeat of both past and present relationships outside the therapy.
Every moment in the here and now of the therapy holographically reflects other moments in our lives, past and present.
“We can experience nothing but the present moment, live in no other second of time, and to understand this is as close as we can get to eternal life.” P.D.James
If the therapist can stay with what is happening in the present moment between herself and the patient, if she can pick up the parallels between now and then, inner and outer, then considerable valuable insight can be gained into some of the patient’s ways of being.
“The present moment is the only time over which we have dominion.” Thích Nhất Hạnh
The Art Of Staying With The Mundane: Moments, Objects, Life.
“Observe the wonders as they occur around you. Don’t claim them. Feel the artistry moving through and be silent……..” Rumi
Claudio Bravo – Paper Bags . Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
“If your daily life seems poor, do not blame it; blame yourself, tell yourself that you are not poet enough to call forth its riches; for to the creator there is no poverty and no poor indifferent place.” Rainer Maria Rilke Artists have long known that there can be wonderful interest in the mundane, in the ordinary. These artists are pointing out to us the fascinating aspects of objects, people, and moments in time that we might overlook.
Yrjö Edelmann – Packed Grey Heaven Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
How much more would we feel able to stay with the here and now if we developed a more curious attitude about the ‘ordinary’ moments in our lives….
“Nothing is more precious than being in the present moment. Fully alive, fully aware.” Thích Nhất Hạnh
Then, like the artists, we would be able to appreciate all that we may previously have seen as ordinary. “There are no ordinary moments.” Dan Millman Every painting and every photograph is, actually, a moment, or a collection of blended moments, captured for posterity. In the Munch painting below, an ‘ordinary’ moment has been recorded for us forever. This is, simultaneously, and paradoxically, a mundane domestic image, whilst also being unique. For never again will will see that same soft light, those vibrant, shimmering colours, or that very same woman arranging her hair. Never again will that brilliant artist capture that moment for us to keep and admire.
Edvard Munch – Woman Looking in a Mirror Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
We are enabled through the image to peruse that moment whenever we choose, to see its value, its richness, noticing so much more in that time, that space that has, paradoxically, gone long ago.
That is the beauty of capturing an image, for we stop time.
“Forever is composed of nows.” Emily Dickinson
“You must live in the present, launch yourself on every wave, find your eternity in each moment.”
Henry David Thoreau
Max Ginsburg – Bus Stop . Gandalf’s Gallery. Flickr.
We can look back, through paintings and photographs, to a time when we did not have to socially-distance!
“Wishing you a day
of remaining in
the moment. Not the
past or future or
story. Not your
anxieties or lists.
But right here,
straight into the