The Here and Now
The trouble is that, in any given moment, we might be aware of something that we would rather not be aware of and we become very good at running away from the things we know in the here and now.
The trouble is that we might have to do something about that thing that we know and we might not want to, so we can persuade ourselves that everything will be alright and we start living in the future - I can put up with this job that I hate because in two months time I will be on a Caribbean beach in the sunshine and I wouldn't be able to afford to be there if I didn't do this job. And we forget to ask if we would need the Caribbean beach if we were more honest and accepting about the here and now and did something about the daily job that we can barely stand.
The trouble is that sometimes in the here and now we hear the call of something new, but we don't know what it is; or we feel the tug of something dragging us down, but we can't identify it. So sometimes we know there's something there, but we don't know what, or why. And it can be so hard to sit with that knowledge - the "something must change, but I don't know what and I'm going to have to wait to find out" kind of knowledge.
The trouble is that sometimes it is the joy in the here and now that we are afraid of. Think about that: the strange contradiction of being scared of the joy you discover in your self in the here and now. Is it the feeling of being a little guilty about being joyful? As though there were something intrinsically more worthy about being not-joyful.
Learning how to feel what we are feeling, know what we know, hear what we hear and think what we think when we sit in the here and now is what yoga practice is all about. It's being able to meet ourselves in the here and now with an open and accepting heart, in the full knowledge that we will never be able to get away from our own self, no matter how fast we run, no matter where we go, no matter what walls we hide behind.
So here's a little thing that you can do right now. Stop reading, turn the sound off your phone/gadgets for a second, sit with a good posture. Breathe a few breaths; if you're alone then you might wish to close your eyes; come to settle in yourself. And into that quiet moment (no matter where you are or how noisy it is around you) ask yourself, with the sincere love that you would offer to the ones you love the most in the world, with the pure attention and kind understanding you would give to your best friend: how am I?
Well? How are you?
However you find yourself in the here and now is fine - how could it be any different since it is what it is? Just pay attention, don't beat yourself up; understand that there is no other version of you that is not feeling the way you are feeling right now. Know yourself. Be kind.
Here is what what of my students said about a low spot he has just been through:
"I felt it coming on and it used to frighten me; I used to think that I shouldn't feel that way, that I had nothing to be sad about so I should snap out of it. But this time, I listened to it and I tried not to reject those sad feelings. I used my energy instead to give myself what I need when this happens to me. So I withdrew a little; I got quiet; I looked after myself. And later, I reached out to the people that I knew could help me. And the strange thing is that the mood shifted in its own time and I felt a lot better allowing it, rather than rejecting it. And I learnt something from that. And now I am back."
Here's Ram Dass, summing it all up perfectly “As long as you have certain desires about how it ought to be you can't see how it is.”
I hope you are well, but I know that there are times when you won't be. So I hope that you can accept yourself in all of your complicated glory; I hope you can know yourself and be patient and see the lessons to be learnt in everything, and even in suffering and sorrow. I hope that your practice gives you the fortitude to be in the here and now with yourself and not to turn away.