From my blog post here: http://jarenldavis.wordpress.com/2010/07/13/returning-to-the-present/
Returning to the Present
If you have watched Jack Black's "Kung Fu Panda", you might remember
hearing the old turtle, "Master Oogway", comfort Po's anxiety when he
said, "Yesterday is history, tomorrow is a mystery, but today is a
gift. That is why it is called the present." If not fully contemplated
and understood, the profound wisdom of this quote is easily overlooked
So much of our regrets, angers, anxieties or worries are based on
events that have already happened, or not yet happened. That leaves
them as either past "has happened", or future "might happen". We rarely
stop to take note of how much of our vitality is wasted on these past
events or future possibilities. While the past does have its lessons
and memories to cherish, and the future its preparations to plan for,
neither of them should be allowed to ruin the joy and experience of
each passing moment.
The past is valuable insofar as it increases the joy and ability to
live better in the current moment. If we regret the outcome of a past
event, it is likely because we still haven't extracted the wisdom from
it to live with different resolve today. Instead of holding onto
regret, we need to fully realize the lesson of that event and then
transform regret into gratitude by learning a better way to handle that
situation going forward, should the opportunity arise for a "redo".
That realization will only take place today and never tomorrow. Once
realized, move on and let it go.
If anger is still gripping you from some past event, it's probably time
to evaluate whether that anger is serving or hurting you and then see
if it can be let go. As an Eastern proverb goes, "Holding onto anger is
like grasping a hot coal with the intent of throwing it at someone
else; you are the one who gets burned." Another excellent observation
of anger comes from the meridian of time Roman, and friend of Gaius
Julius Caeser, Mark Antony: "Consider how much more you often suffer
from your anger and grief, than from those very things for which you
are angry and grieved." Anger is an instinctive emotion that serves
during the "fight or flight" stage of any perceived threat. The problem
comes from not releasing that energy once we are no longer threatened.
Once you've escaped or resolved the perceived threat, let the anger go.
The past can teach us a lot of things, as well as bring back some of
the joy of past relationships or events. However, it doesn't do well to
dwell on it if it is keeping us from living fully today.
The future is something so illusive that it can be difficult to
predict, even when based on the patterns of yesterday. We all think
about the future for various reasons. Perhaps more so than is helpful
when it comes to living fully today. The future can stir up all sorts
of emotions from hope, despair, anxiety, anticipation, worry, and many,
many more. When we look forward to a future event, we often feel
excited or hopeful. When we dread a future event, we may feel anxiety
or fear. Whether you perceive either of these seemingly opposite
emotional sensations as positive or negative, they can both be
debilitating when it comes to living fully today. Whether it is
excitement, fear or anything in between that you feel towards some
future event, the potential exists for those emotions to prevent you
from realizing what you are living and experiencing today by not being
present enough to enjoy whatever it is you're doing right now. The
future should only occupy our awareness so long as what we're doing
right now is preparatory for the future we want to create. That can be
anything from buying groceries for the coming week, making reservations
for a trip to Yellowstone or buying tickets for the Lady Gaga tour in
2011. Notating those events in a calendar will help you be prepared and
continue preparations when those dates become today. However, if you're
not in a position to do anything in this moment to plan or prepare for
that future possibility, put it out of your mind and focus on enjoying
whatever it is that is needing your attention and awareness right now.
Another way future events can ruin the current moment is when we place
excessive emotional stock in a future event but then that future event
either never takes place or turns out to be a dud, we are left in a
mostly depressed, angry andruined state.
While we are stuck in the past or looking for salvation in the future,
we are likely creating a mini hell for ourselves today. This is because
our preoccupation with the past or future is keeping us from living or
accepting today. This is why we love weekends and loath Mondays. Our
anticipation for the coming weekend, or longing for the past weekend is
often the very thing which is making weekdays, particularly Monday,
when the past weekend is so fresh in our memories, unbearable or
mundane. Except for those mostly rare times when remembering the past
or preparing for the future is enhancing the current moment, they
should be left in their respective time frames.
To give some perspective to this concept, please consider the
following: Nothing that has ever happened in the history of the
universe has ever happened outside of this moment. Nothing ever
happened in the past and nothing ever happens in the future. When ever
anything transpires, it does so right now. Each passing moment, right
now, is the only position of power. Thus when we focus on living each
day to the fullest, doing those things that need to be done and
indulging in those things that we want to do, we are in the best
position to guide and live our lives in whatever way pleases us most,
without regrets, and without anxiety. This realization can identify the
ills of procrastination in a much brighter light. Regretting not doing
something yesterday or putting it off until tomorrow will not get it
done. Today is the only day that you will ever live your life in.
Realize it and gain your power in the present, this moment, right now.
What are you waiting for? You start living by doing so today.